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Osun youths set police station ablaze in protest of killed resident

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YOUTHS in Iwo, Osun State, have burnt down the Police Area Command office located in the town in protest of the killing of one of them by an official of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The victim, whose name was given as Tunde Nofiu, was said to be home on holidays. He was shot dead on Thursday night at Odo-Ori market, while on his way to Ile-Ogbo.

The angry youths mobilised themselves on Friday morning and went to the police area command office where they dislodged the policemen, pulled down the fence of the premises and set the offices ablaze.

Generating sets and other equipment belonging to the police were also torched.

Many also took to social media to narrate the incident, some claiming that Nofiu was shot dead for refusing the SARS operatives access to his phone.

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This is coming just days after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ordered a “total overhaul” of SARS and its operations, “following persistent complaints and reports” from members of the public.

Osinbajo, who gave the directive on August 10, in his capacity as the Acting President, during President Muhammadu Buhari’s 10-day vacation in London, expressed optimism that the new unit that would emerge after the reform of SARS “will be intelligence-driven and restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery and kidnapping, and apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences, and nothing more”.

Following the presidential directive, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, announced that as part of the overhauling process, SARS has been renamed to FSARS (Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad), and the supervision of its operations has been moved from the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (FCIID), to the Department of Operations.

“In the new arrangement, a new Commissioner of Police has been appointed as the overall head of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad nationwide. The Commissioner of Police (FSARS) is answerable to the Inspector General of Police through the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Department of Operations,” announced Jimoh Moshood, the Force Public Relations Officer.

But many criticised the move by the IGP, saying that merely renaming SARS and appointing a new head cannot be equivalent to an overhaul.

SARS is a department of the Nigeria Police Force whose major objective is to track, investigate and unravel violent crimes bordering on armed robbery, kidnapping, and the likes. But over time, SARS operatives have, on a regular basis, engaged in illegal operations such as arresting young people on the allegation of being internet fraudsters, also known as “yahoo boys” in the Nigerian lingo.

It became a regular occurrence for SARS operatives to stop a vehicle in transit, march everybody down and start frisking passengers, including going through their mobile phones and personal computers. Also, on several occasions, citizens have reported that they were maltreated by SARS operatives for having tattoos on their bodies or wearing a dreadlock hairstyle.

A campaign was started on the social media, tagged #EndSARS, to call the attention of the government to the “illegal” activities of some SARS operatives.

Meanwhile, the police authorities said the officer that allegedly killed Nofiu has been arrested and an investigation is ongoing. The information, which was shared through the Twitter handle of the public complaints department of the police, added that the Commissioner of Police in Osun State is meeting with relatives and community members of the victim.

 

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