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President affirms people’s right to public protest

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In his response to the nationwide protests against police brutality especially the conduct of some of its tactical units, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, to ensure that personnel of the force remain fully accountable to the people.

Earlier Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on the direction of the President, had presided over a meeting Friday afternoon at the Presidential Villa over the issue of SARS. The Inspector-General of Police, Director-General of the State Security Services and the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission were among top FG officials at the meeting.

The Presidential directive to the IGP is contained in a Tweet from the verified Twitter handle of President, posted Friday evening, in which he also affirmed the people’s right to public protest.

According to the President, “I met again with the Inspector General of Police tonight. Our determination to reform the police should never be in doubt. I am being briefed regularly on the reform efforts ongoing to end police brutality and unethical conduct and ensure that the Police are fully accountable to the people.

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“The IG already has my firm instructions to conclusively address the concerns of Nigerians regarding these excesses, and ensure erring personnel are brought to justice.

While calling for peace and understanding by citizens, President Buhari said: “I appeal for patience and calm, even as Nigerians freely exercise their right to peacefully make their views known.

He said, “the vast majority of men and women of the Nigeria Police Force are patriotic and committed to protecting the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians, and we will continue to support them to do their job.

In a tweet and release shared with editors by the Vice President’s Spokesperson Mr Laolu Akande later on Friday night, he disclosed that “at the direction of the President, Vice President Osinbajo met with the IGP, Mohammed Adamu, DG-SSS, Yusuf Bichi and the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission to review the next steps on conclusively addressing concerns of Nigerians on the excesses of SARS and other tactical police units.

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The Vice President and IGP later briefed Mr President who gave further directives to the IG on the matter.

It will be recalled that the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, last Sunday, met with the IGP at his residence, to discuss the issue of brutality by some members the force’s tactical units like the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

After the meeting, the IGP issued a statement banning further routine activities of the SARS.

Osinbajo later told State House correspondents that he was angry about the actions of some policemen, especially those attached to SARS, said to be harassing and sometimes maiming and killing Nigerians, especially young people. He said such actions coming from those saddled with the responsibilities of protecting the citizens were unacceptable.

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