By Lucky Ojigbo, Abuja
The Justice Development and Peace Movement (JDPM) of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo state branch has condemned in strong term the shooting of harmless protesters at different states in the country, just as it called President Muhammadu Buhari to rise up to resolve the uprising by restructuring the country for a peaceful coexistence.
In a press statement signed by the Oyo coordinator Mr. Adeleke Gabriel on behalf of the group, said ” In the last few days, we have been observing with keen interest how the Nigerian youths have taken to the streets over the police brutality by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police. The action which has been condemned by Nigerians at home and abroad; including the international mainstream media is making waves and generates headlines globally.
“No doubt, the resilience and determination exhibited by the Nigerian youths showed that the future of the country is bright if the political leaders give them a chance to voice out their grievances. We did not expect a responsive government to deny these youths just like other citizen’s freedom of speech and expression. Why must the Nigeria Police shoot live bullets at the unarmed protesters who are exercising their rights? We condemn this ignoble action because it contravenes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and some sections of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended.
The response of the Nigerian Police in handling the matter attests to the fact that our policing systems still have a long way to go. Nigerians are suffering, yet, they still smile and work hard to survive the harsh economic, political and social climate but the heat in the ENDSARS protest is an indication that people are tired of police harassment. We know the state of facilities in our Police Divisions, Barracks and Training Schools are substandard and old, staff welfare packages are peanut, and the quality of the rank officers and the weapons in their divisions are crude, old and need an upgrade. But that doesn’t mean the police officers quest to meet a clandestine mission should be melted on the helpless Nigerians.” The statement revealed.
Stating further, “The urgent need for police reform is not about ending police brutality or changing the nomenclature from SARS to FSARS and SWAT alone. It is a clarion call for the Nigerian government to look into 21st century policing, training and re-training of the police officers on civility, professionalism and modesty.
“The operational efficiency and finance should be thoroughly assessed and evaluated by an independent international security outfit to find out why despite the funding over the years, it is yet to be justified in service delivery in Nigeria for Nigerians.
There must be an overhaul of the present structure of the Police nationwide and the reorientation of the personnel to make them more efficient and accountable for their actions. The Nigeria Police must investigate, expose and parade the officers who have killed dozens of Nigerian youths unjustly over the years. The police recruitment strategy should be upgraded to reflect professional conduct through proper re-evaluation which will attract more graduates who are passionate about servicing the nation not necessarily motivated by the financial gains alone and they must be exposed to international standards of training.
“If President Muhammadu Buhari has addressed the nation early, the protest wouldn’t have led to the killings of hundreds of youths before the protest and thereafter. Why must Nigerians beg for the attention of their number one man before he addresses the nation at a trying time like this? The President should learn how to do the needful on time. Nigeria is not an animal kingdom. A civilized society needs visionary, compassionate and purpose-driven leadership to bring sustainable development.
“We, however, wish to implore the Nigerian youths to be law-abiding in their protest and channel the same energy, determination and resilience to demand good governance and review of remuneration of elected and appointed government functionaries. This is a disguised opportunity where the youth in our dear nation can use to seek positive change which would ameliorate the suffering of the masses.
“The peaceful protest is more than a call on the Nigerian government to end police brutality and reform the structure alone but a clarion call to the Nigerian youths who have been slumbering a long time to arise and demand-responsive governance and better living from their leaders. It is an eye-opener to other areas that needed attention to make the dream of a better Nigeria come to reality.” He added.