On October 7, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, argued that banning the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) would not bring a solution to the cases of extrajudicial killings reportedly carried out by the Police unit.
Lawan was responding to Senator Oluremi Tinubu’s motion on extrajudicial killings and human rights violations by SARS operatives.
The #EndSARS protests across the country and several cities of the world had been triggered by reported acts of impunity, extortion of citizens, brazen brutality, and indiscriminate killings, among others.
There have been several angles to the EndSARS conversation, and Lawan’s opinion reflects those of many others whose views coalesce around the need to reform the police, both in name and character. Perhaps, this perspective touches at the heart of the matter.
But what is the essence of reform if it is devoid of liberty and justice for citizens? This is where the planned conversations by lawmakers must be made robust and underpinned by the need to ensure that the country’s legislations are not just deliberately designed to strengthen the police but also purposefully structured to deliver justice to aggrieved citizens always.
An undeniable fact is that the sacked SARS operatives, especially its poorly cultured members, risk not being fished out for sanctions if they are allowed to reintegrate into the larger force without as much as being called out to pay for their sins.
In this regard, therefore, Nigerian lawmakers must take the lead in the quest for the constitution of a high-powered commission of inquiry to investigate and propose measures that will assuage the feelings of the many that have been unjustly treated and the culprits brought before justice.
What Nigerians are, therefore, clamouring for is a holistic reform of the NPF, as enshrined in the new Police Act, part of which the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is currently challenging.
The growing protests, no doubt, hold a flicker of light in the country’s sustained march towards the attainment of genuine democracy founded on the rule of law.
Therefore, Lawan and his contemporaries must provide an honest environment for an elaborate debate of all that needs to be done to reborn the police into a people-friendly civil organization, not a security agency gone rogue.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“The only difference between SARS and criminals is that they are holding AK47. Some very wicked Nigerians go to SARS to tell them to harass their fellow citizens?”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Opeyemi Bamidele, on October 7, decried the poor salaries paid to judicial officials and Justices in the country. Indeed, he attributed the prevalent corruption within the judiciary to poor remuneration.
Speaking in Abuja during the screening of the Eight Justices recently nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari as Justices of Supreme Court, he said, “The present situation in the country, as regards welfare of Judges and Justices, calls for a major intervention. Salaries and allowances of Judicial officers, Judges and Justices in Nigeria, were last reviewed in 2008 through an Act of Parliament.”
“The enumerated poor take-home packages for Judges and Justices, clearly, show that they are not being fortified in any way against temptation on the line of duty,” he added.
Bamidele’s submissions give a crisp view of the source of the many challenges and minuses holding the judicial arm of government down in Nigeria. From twisting verdicts in favour of the highest bidder to helping politicians manipulate the electoral process, the judiciary is in dire need of a new direction.
But will reformation come from within or without? The answer to this can be found in the principle of separation of powers to which Nigeria has signed on. So, the relevant question to ask is why the Nigerian judiciary has developed clay feet in fighting for its constitutional rights.
And, it might not be out of place to also ask rhetorically if Bamidele’s committee is the trigger they need to pull to exercise their constitutional duties or demand what deservedly is their right?
Even more importantly is the absurdity in not taking full advantage of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order 10 of 2020 for financial autonomy in state legislature and judiciary, signed on May 22 to empower their members.
The temptation is to think that the hierarchy of the judiciary has been so conditioned because it lacks the moral right to demand equity as guaranteed by the constitution. And, this is sad!
Scrapping needless agencies
On October 7, the Senate called on the Federal Government to drastically reduce the number of agencies in order to better manage the cost of governance.
The Senators issued this following the approval of the report of its Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper presented by the Chairman, Solomon Adeola.
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, after the approval of the report, said: “Many of the agencies were created to address specific challenges as of the time they were created. They are now irrelevant and have become conduit pipes that we appropriate money to every year while adding no value to the nation again.”
The position of the Senate conforms with the long-held submissions of the Oronsanye Committee that recommend the merger of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
What is, perhaps, missing is the political will to do the needful and save the country massive financial hemorrhage which often end up in the pockets of some thieving politicians.
At no other point in the nation’s history has this call become more relevant than now the country’s revenue has dropped by 60% following the fall in the price of oil in the global market.
There’s no gain repeating the fact that these agencies were created by law, and can only be dissolved through the same process. This is where the Senators come in. They must shun narrow political gains and continue to speak up for what is in the country’s best interest.
Answer: Sabi Abdullahi
The statement was made by Senator Sabi Abdullahi. He represents Niger North Senatorial District. He made the statement, on October 7, 2020, while condemning the misdeeds of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), on the floor of Senate.
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