By Ewa Innocent, Abakaliki
As the #EndSARS protest continues, Youth from Ebonyi state on Tuesday, October 12, 2020, barricaded the entrance gate of old government house, Abakaliki, with placards of various inscriptions.
Some of the placards read, ‘End to police brutality’, ‘End to unlawful arrest and detention’, ‘IGP reform the Nigerian police’ and so on.
The protesters demanded to be given the opportunity to speak to the state Governor, David Umahi or his Deputy, Dr. Kelechi Igwe, whom they described as the elected true representatives that they could listen to.
One of the protesters by the name, Saint Nnaemeka Linus, who narrated his ugly experience in the hand of the police when he was arrested for an alleged Cult activity, because, according to him, he had tattoo on his right arm, said he was tortured and brutalised by police on the offence he did not commit.
The protesters who were unanimous in the alleged brutality of police against the youth, through unlawful arrests and illegal detentions, said they were not only against the reconstitution of SARS in other name or nomenclature, but against the total brutality of police in any form or guise.
The protesters also demanded the reform of the Nigeria Police to meet the yearnings and aspiration of Nigerian Democratic experience.
“We are citizens, we have our rights. End police brutality in Nigeria, reform police, SARS must go now. We want peace, Police is not a brutality department”, they changed.
A protester, Ekoh Samuel who also spoke, said, “We are fighting for our rights and our right is to end this police brutality because their brutality is affecting every youth in this state.
“Enough is enough! We want all those who have been found guilty of one crime or the other to be scrapped from the police force entirely. We want Ebonyi government to assure us, the police in the state must be one of the best in Nigeria.
“If you carry an iPhone they call you a criminal, if you wear jeans they tag you a criminal, you wear fine sneakers they tag you a criminal, we want to speak with the governor or the deputy governor we elected and they are the only two people we can listen to.
“No one can walk freely in this state, if they catch you and search you and find nothing in you, ‘I no follow’ N10,000.00, N50,000.00, and Neighborhood watch members now connive with the police to brutalise us and tag us wanderers.
“Nobody can walk in the night again not for the fear of armed robbers but the fear of the police, it is wrong. Our demand is that we want a better state and Nigeria. We want Justice for the victims that have been killed.We don’t want their redeployment”, he stressed.
Addressing the protesters, Commissioner for Internal Security, Border Peace and conflict resolution, Mr. Stanley Okoro Emeagha commended President Mohammadu Buhari for ordering the Inspector General of Police, IGP, to scrap the SARS.
In his words, “It is a welcome development that the IGP scrapped SARS on the instructions of the President.
“They were not sacked, rather a name was cleaned up and then there is going to be a reform to clear complaints from the masses against the police. I want us to know that society can not live without security.
“We are talking about the areas they don’t do well because we know they are doing wonderfully well to give us protection, it is only a few that are not doing well.
“The Neighborhood watch that I trained was to give security to the citizens of the state and not to brutalize anybody.
“I have never had a call that there is brutality from the aspect of neighbourhood watch and if there is such, we have a way to handle them through our disciplinary committee”, he ended.