Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has apologised to the protesters marching against many brutal and extortionist activities by the operatives of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) across the country.
The Vice President, in a statement issued on Friday night, said the government was undertaking ongoing comprehensive measures that would revamp the police by addressing issues of welfare, service conditions and training.
Osinbajo also assured that none of former members of the disbanded SARS would feature in any police tactical units.
He explained that the meeting of National Economic Council (NEC) which he chaired resolved to set up judicial panels of inquiry to ensure speedy dispensation of justice and because only state governors, by law, can set up judicial inquiries in their states with public hearings.
Osinbajo said: “Dear Nigerians, I know that many of you are angry, and understandably so. We could’ve moved faster and for this we are sorry.
“I fully understand how many young people feel. Many feel that we have been too silent and have simply not done enough.
These feelings of frustration are justified.
“There are far too many people who have been brutalised at the hands of the police and this is unacceptable. We must take responsibility for protecting young people, even sometimes from those who are paid to protect them.
“Over the past week, we have been following the protests, and I have had a number of discussions with key people in the administration that you deserve to be informed about. Transparency, after all, is a key tenet of government.
“Several meetings have been held with: the Senate President Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Speaker of the House Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Chairman of the Police Service Commission, the IG of the Nigerian Police (IGP), the Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commision Nigeria, and governors.
“We understand that you want to see action from us and I’m here to tell you that work is ongoing. I chaired a meeting of 36 state governors and the Minister of the FCT (NEC), where we resolved to set up judicial panels of inquiry so we can see justice served, and fast.
“The reason being that only state governors, by law, can set up judicial inquiries in their states. The hearings will be public.
“With Mr. President’s approval, SARS has been completely disestablished, and none of its former members will feature in any police tactical units.”
The Vice President, condoled with the families of the victims of the#EndSARS protests across the country, expressed the commitment of government to continue to engage the protesters on the actions being taken in the spirit of transparency.
Osinbajo said: “I am sending my deepest condolences to the families of Jimoh Isiaq, and all those who have lost their lives at the hands of wayward police officers. To those injured, I wish a full and speedy recovery.
“We have proposed that each state government sets up a Victims’ Support Fund, which the Nigerian Government will support. This is the least that we can do to compensate for the injustice suffered at the hands of errant officers.
“We also understand that the issues that you’re raising are bigger than just SARS. They’re deep and systemic and we’re undertaking comprehensive measures that will revamp the police by addressing issues of welfare, service conditions and training.
“On Monday, Mr. President also reiterated his commitment to these extensive police reforms.
“We will continue to update and engage with you all on these action steps and the ones to come, in the spirit of transparency, so that you can hold us accountable. We are, after all, here to serve you and we owe you a duty to win back your trust.”