The raging national protest against police brutality and extra-judicial killings took a damning turn on Friday when Genevieve Nnaji, hit real hard on President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a brief open letter to President Buhari over the hot agitation to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Genevieve said: ”Sir, you have had two terms. What our country is today is a reflection of your leadership, your legacy.’’
The Nollywood top star recalls how her niece was allegedly harassed by the notorious SARS because she carried a laptop.
According to her, ‘’my 13-year-old niece was slapped across her face. Complaints were filed but nothing was done. Mr President, this is the current state of your country. The stability of a nation largely depends on its leader.’’
The daring actress talked tough as young Nigerians occupied the entrance of Lagos State House of Assembly Complex. They spent the night at the entrance of the complex demanding an immediate response and immediate disbandment of SARS.
The protesters on Friday morning assembled and chanted solidarity songs with ‘END SARS!’ ‘END SARS!’ chants as they demanded an audience of the state legislators.
They decried harassment encountered in the hands of SARS operatives, lamenting the rate at which many young Nigerians are being battered and killed by trigger-happy police officers.
“We are not here to submit a petition. We are here to get results. So, 15 persons are going in”, one of the protesters said as the lawmakers later addressed them and invited their delegates to discuss their demands on the floor of the House.”
Surulere Constituency legislator, Desmond Elliot, a popular Nollywood actor, during the discussion of the demands of the protesters said, “it has gone beyond having hotlines or doing reforms. We really need to look into it.
‘’Nigeria Police are working for the people. If the SARS unit is working for the people and the people are calling for it to be disbanded, and then let us do what they are saying.”
While many thought the demonstrations will be all for the day, a group of young people led by Debo Adebayo, a comedian popularly known as Mr Macaroni, stormed the premises of the Lagos Assembly, asking that the lawmakers pass legislation that will see to the disbandment of the SARS unit in the Nigeria Police.
Apparently jolted, President Buhari on Friday assured the protesting citizens that his administration will ensure that the Police are fully accountable to the people.
He posted on his Facebook page: ‘’I met again with the Inspector General of Police tonight. Our determination to reform the police should never be in doubt. I am being briefed regularly on the reform efforts ongoing to end police brutality and unethical conduct, and to ensure that the Police are fully accountable to the people.
‘’The IG already has my firm instructions to conclusively address the concerns of Nigerians regarding these excesses, and ensure erring personnel are brought to justice. I appeal for patience and calm, even as Nigerians freely exercise their right to peacefully make their views known.
‘’The vast majority of men and women of the Nigeria Police Force are patriotic and committed to protecting the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians, and we will continue to support them to do their job.’’
Commenting, Dan Ajubi, writes: ‘’As long as TriggerHappy Police are not held accountable for their actions, no amount of REFORMS will CHANGE anything. We can only wait for the Next Victim.
‘’They can #EndSars today and create another unit tomorrow with the same set of people. (It is) only when we are all equal in the eyes of the LAW that some people will think twice before they pull that TRIGGER.’’
The EndSARS protest was however, reignited the previous week following an alleged shooting of a youth in front of a hotel in Ughelli, Delta State, in broad daylight by some SARS operatives who drove away his Lexus Jeep. The Police said the young man didn’t die.
Consequently, the Police high command announced the ban of the notorious SARS and other special tactical squads from carrying out routine stop and search.
Aggrieved citizens are claiming that the police authorities have not shown enough commitment to reform the dreaded police unit over the years and calling for its disbandment.
Despite the Force Headquarters calling for calm, the protest is raging on in parts of the country with citizens in the Diaspora joining the hot protest.