A couple of days ago, Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo directed the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris to overhaul the much-abused Special Anti Robbery Squad, a special unit in the Police Force, which has for long achieved notoriety and some infamy for serial abuses of human rights, extrajudicial executions, tortures and extraction of confession to crimes under duress among other infractions.
We are elated by the positive responses from the Acting President to concerns of Nigerians on inelegant and cancerous developments in the polity.
We recall his summary dismissal of the former director general of the Department of State Security, DSS, Lawan Daura for the unauthorized siege on National Assembly.
This kind of razzmatazz between government and the governed is the stuff of real democracy, and we enjoin Nigerians to encourage and stimulate such positive walk in the hitherto untravelled path, one that signals a move in the right direction.
However, we are piqued and disturbed that no sooner was the order for a positive new dawn in the Police, and especially SARS was being given, than it was broken by the same Police.
Within hours after the directive, Samuel Ogundipe, Premium Times’ Security Reporter was arrested by SARS officers allegedly on the order of the Inspector General of Police. His offence: writing of negative stories on the police. The paper’s editor-in-chief and Education Reporter were also briefly detained for three hours for daring to point out to an assistant commissioner of police the illegality of the arrest, and also for telling the officers to take cognisance of the Freedom of Information Act 2016, Section 16, Subsection C, which guarantees the confidentiality of sources, a practice globally accepted.
It is not only wrong for the Police to insist that citizen Ogundipe will not have his fundamental rights to freedom until he discloses his source. It is an abuse of the law, and an attempt to muzzle the media, and prevents it from telling the truth.
The Police authorities went further to freeze citizen Ogundipe’s account as part of the pressure to squeeze him into submission.
The Acting President should intervene and stop the police from further embarrassing the Nigerian state.
Beyond that, there is a need to put in motion automatic mechanism to checkmate the excesses of the police, to prevent it from further embarrassing the system, and from self -immolation.
It should be such that when such illegal arrests are affected, the victims or their relatives can contact this agency for robust intervention and justice