PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Monday directed the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu to investigate circumstances behind the death of a young man in Oyo State during the protest against brutality by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.
President Buhari, who declared that disbanding of the SARS was the first step to extensive police reforms by his administration, expressed regret over the gruesome murder of the protester, warning that the few bad eggs should not be allowed to tarnish the image and reputation of the entire police force.
This is as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has assured Nigerians that whatever will replace SARS would be something that will be acceptable and must comply with the tenets of the rule of law.
Speaking at the launch of the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES), aimed at creating 774,000 jobs across the Local Government Areas in the country, President Buhari further directed the security agencies to ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts be brought to justice.
According to him, ”I will like to use this opportunity to say a word on the recent genuine concerns and agitations by Nigerians about the excessive use of force and in some cases extra-judicial killings and wrongful conduct of the men of the Nigerian Police Force. The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people.
”We will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice. We deeply regret the loss of life of the young man in Oyo State during the recent demonstrations.
”I have directed that the circumstances of his death should be thoroughly investigated. Meanwhile, it is important to recognize that the vast majority of men and women of the police force are hardworking and diligent in performing their duties. The few bad eggs should not be allowed to tarnish the image and reputation of the force.”
On the empowerment programme, the President while restating his administration’s commitment to youth development and poverty alleviation pledged that the Federal Government policies of social protection and people empowerment would continue on track, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
The President, who described P-YES as a cornerstone of his administration’s social and economic development strategies, said it was part of the overall policy of ensuring that 100 million Nigerians were lifted out of poverty in ten years.
He said, ”The P-YES is also part of the plan that we adopted in 2016 in which we empowered One hundred youths from each of the 774 Local Government Areas with the necessary tools to acquire skills and establish small businesses.
”Given the success of that initiative, we are now committed to creating 774,000 jobs across all the LGAs, through the P-YES programme.”
President Buhari, who took a tour of P-YES tools and equipment displayed at the forecourt of Presidential Villa, expressed delight that the materials showcased represent the fruits of the initiatives embarked upon by his administration in 2016.
He said, ”All the tools, machines and equipment that are exhibited here, are products of the efforts of these empowered youth entrepreneurs. I note with particular pleasure that they were all fabricated in Nigeria by Nigerian youths using locally sourced materials. This is a wonderful and uplifting achievement.
”As an entrepreneurship empowerment project, the P-YES programme aims to address the needs of unskilled and less educated youth. It targets key areas of activities that are of practical importance and are essential to every aspect of our economy.
”These include areas such as agriculture and food processing, restaurant and catering, tailoring and fashion design, technical skills such as in the Information and Communications Technology sector, artisanship, welding, carpentry and joinery, other small businesses and activities associated with the microeconomic sector of this economy.”
The President used the occasion to call on State Governments, Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to factor the P-YES into their programmes to assist the youth realise their potentials in their chosen fields.
He urged local and foreign private sector operators in Nigeria to also contribute their share to the expansion of this programme through channelling their corporate social responsibility efforts towards skills acquisition, creation of start-ups, and other intervention measures.
President Buhari declared that the expansion of the P-YES would now be vigorously pursued, adding that more resources will be committed to the achievement of its goals and objectives towards youth empowerment and entrepreneurship development.
The President commended the Office of the Senior Special Assistant on Youth and Students Affairs, under Hon. Nasiru Saidu Adhama, for driving the P-YES programme in accordance with the mandates prescribed for the office and the programme.
He expressed confidence that the programme being supervised by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation would make significant difference.
In his remarks, Hon Adhama assured the President that as achieved in the pilot phase of the programme the selection of beneficiaries in the full-scale P-YES scheme would be done with the utmost transparency and credibility, adding that equal opportunities will be observed in the delivery of equipment, tools and machines to all States and local government areas.
Fielding questions from the State House correspondents after the launch on whether the government would accede to the five demands from the ‘ENDSARS’ protesters, Vice President Osinbajo said, “I think the most important thing is that SARS has been disbanded and that the IGP has also committed to ensuring they not only is it disbanded but that whatever takes its place has the full participation of the civil society groups and all other stakeholders.
“A few minutes ago, the President also spoke about it. The disbandment of SARS is only the first stage in a full-scale reform of the police force. I think everyone is now committed to seeing a police force and also law enforcement that will meet the expectations of Nigerians.
“The purpose of law enforcement and the purpose of policing is for the safety of lives and livelihood of Nigerians. So we are all committed, I don’t think it’s the exclusive preserve of anyone, we are all very committed.
“The president has also spoken about the prosecution of all law enforcement agents who must have committed wrongful acts. I think all these are commitment but we must also understand that it’s a process, it is not an event. Reform is a process and we must all commit to it and must stay focused on those issues.”
Asked on his message for those still protesting, Prof. Osinbajo said, “I think the clear message is that there is a government commitment to ensuring… reforms, those who have committed wrongful acts are duly investigated and prosecuted. And that whatever replaces SARS is something that is acceptable.
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“First of all, compliance with all of the tenets of the rule of law and that human right rights…I think these are deep issues that we are all concerned about, I don’t think one person is more concerned than others. I have also been involved in many cases of many young people trying to resolve these kinds of conflicts that have been reported.
“I think it is a good moment for the police force and for all of us to try and reform the police. We are all committed to it.”
Also present at the occasion were the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Governors Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State.
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