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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said he envisions a better Nigeria where fundamental human rights of people will be respected after the #EndSARS protests.
The minister, who spoke at a Special NAN Forum on Monday in Abuja, said that the vision would, however, be achievable if the protesters would give peace a chance, end the protest and allow the government to implement its unprecedented reform of the nation’s security architecture.
The minister, who described #EndSARS as ‘one of the most popular and successful protests in the history of this country”, regretted that the peaceful protest with genuine demands had been hijacked by hoodlums and people with a selfish motive to destabilise the country.’
He said that the government had started the process of unprecedented reform of the Police and the entire internal security structure following the #EndSARS protest.
‘With every challenge, there is always an opportunity and the opportunity this protest has given us is to look at a more holistic approach to reforming our internal security.’
‘For the first time in the history of this country, a special Police tactical unit is being formed which will be supervised not by a Police Command but a committee to be chaired by the Governor of each state with representatives of youths and Civil Society Organisations.’
‘The committee chaired by the governor will have the responsibility to supervise the way the special security unit relate to the public and carry out its responsibilities.’
‘The panel being put up will take complaints from the public with regards to human rights abuses; this has never happened in the history of this country,’ he said.
Mohammed said that following the #EndSARS protest, the government unprecedentedly has directed the setting up of a judicial panel of enquiry in each state to investigate and prosecute erring security officers that had engaged in brutality and extrajudicial killings.
He said that it was also the first time that a government is setting up a Victim Support Fund to compensate victims of Police brutality and extrajudicial killings in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
‘In line with the new Police Act, officers to be enlisted in the new tactical Police unit will be tested psychologically and mentally to be sure that they are fit for the operations.’
‘This will put a big check on Police abuse and extrajudicial killing which we have witnessed over the decades,’ he said.
Mohammed said that while the government is in the process of implementing all the reforms, the #EndSARS group should end the protest which had already turned violent.
He reiterated that by giving the government the opportunity to implement the reforms, the#EndSARS group would write their names in gold as champions of reformed internal security of Nigeria.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK