Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have endorsed the #EndSARS protests across various cities in Nigeria, describing it as “an accurate representation of the problem in the country” which is morally justified.
Naija News reports that protesting youths in Nigeria are agitating for the end to police brutalization and extrajudicial killings of Nigerians. The protesters have been on the streets for more than a week now, protesting the brutalities, humiliation, and extortion of Nigerians, especially the youths.
The protesters demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police unit under the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police Anthony Ogbizi, using a hashtag: #EndSARS.
On Sunday, October 11, 2020, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu disbanded SARS following a widespread protest from Nigerians worldwide.
However, since the announcement that SARS has been scrapped, the protesters have refused to leave the streets, which a Presidential Advisory Committee says might force the Federal Government to take drastic measures against the protesting youths.
On the backdrop of the protests, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria in a statement on Saturday, Most Rev. Augustine Obiora Akubeze, President of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), said many lives had been wasted through unnecessary brutality and wrong application of force.
The Catholic Bishops while demanding justice for all victims of SARS brutality and police brutality and a review of the welfare of the policemen who have poorly been deprived by the system, advised the concerned youths to avoid any form of violence during the protests.
Part of the statement read, “Thus the cries of our children protesting against the brutality of SARS that manifests in extrajudicial killings, unlawful arrests, profiling of youths as criminals, the invasion of youths privacy by searching phones and laptops without any warrant or any just cause, and the incarceration of many of the youths in the SARS custody without trial.
“We the members of the CBCN have followed the protests with keen interest and call on the Federal Government of Nigeria once again to listen to the cry for justice so that peace can reign in our country. The protests seem to have a life of its own, and it is spreading all over the country; this shows that most Nigerians are facing the same oppression and brutality inflicted by the SARS.
“We urge the Federal Government to fulfil its primary constitutional responsibility of securing life and property of every Nigerian and provide opportunities for our children to realise their God-given potentials.
“The audacity and impunity with which the SARS officials have been operating all the while is a manifestation of the failing state of Nigeria. Various bodies and patriotic Nigerians have expressed the opinion that just ending the SARS would not solve the enormous problems of Nigeria, because it is futile treating symptoms of a disease when the root cause is known.
“We reiterate that restructuring this country is a desirable path to be towed given the various developments in this nation. The knee jerk reaction of the administration by abolishing the SARS and setting up the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team portrays either the absence of an understanding of the entire problem or a lack of sincerity to address the issue.
“The Nigerian Government must realise that what the youths, on behalf of Nigerians, clamour for under the code name #EndSARS is a comprehensive reform of the entire Police Force and not a change of name; they call for a reform of all our government institutions and a reform of the entire nation. They are asking for a system that will be hard on crimes and criminals in the society within the ambience of the law, while at the same time treating every human being, citizens and visitors alike, with respect and dignity.”
“EndSARS goes beyond the SARS, and it is morally justified. We support the youths who have taken this step, and we caution that they are allowed without any intimidation to exercise their right to peaceful demonstration and should not be provoked or incited to violence.”