By Ahmad Sorondinki
Five cars were vandalised in Abuja on Wednesday when rival youth groups clashed over the #EndSARS protests, Daily Times gathered.
The Commissioner of Police in the FCT, Mr Bala Ciroma, who confirmed the incident to newsmen, said that the incident caused a traffic gridlock around the area.
“There were exchanges between groups opposed to the protests and others supporting the protests at Julius Berger round-about in the early hours of Wednesday.
“The timely intervention of the Police prevented the situation from escalating to something more dangerous.
“We have commenced investigation to determine what happened at the Berger junction. About five vehicles were vandalised. No arrest has so far been made but investigation is ongoing. There is no casualty recorded,” he said.
He explained that the command had deployed its personnel across the territory, especially at strategic points, to curb other security breaches.
“We have deployed a good number of personnel to flash points to prevent any security breach,” he said.
He urged the protesters to allow peace to reign so that economic activities could pick up in the Federal Capital Territory.
This came as a coalition of Northern youths and student leaders from Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara called on President Muhammadu Buhari to consider an upward review of budgetary allocation to the police and other security agencies in the country.
Convener and Chairman of the Coalition, Mr Isah Jabbi, in a statement on Wednesday noted that the police in conjunction with other security agencies have continued to carry out sustained operations against terrorism and other forms of criminality.
Jabbi also highlighted that the police have maintained a posture to defend Nigeria’s internal security, in line with President Buhari’s focus to eliminate insurgency in the country.
He said that it is a mission the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu is committed to.
“IGP Adamu understands the power of unity and that is why he maintains robust security relations with other security agencies in the county, and together they have achieved tremendous success.
“Nigeria Police remained apolitical, professional and responsive in the discharge of their constitutional roles and total commitment to the defence of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“IGP Adamu’s brutal confrontation of banditry, is not only a pacesetter in the history of the Nigeria Police, he is a man with many ‘firsts’.
“The Nigeria Police have conducted successful recruitment, training and deployment of 10,000 police recruits in line with Federal Government’s manpower development plan of the Nigeria Police.
“The force has provided Patrol Vehicles including 46 Police Smart Surveillance (CCTV Camera-on-the Move) Vehicles, Tactical Operations Vehicles fitted with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment; Armoured Personnel Carriers; Troop Carriers; and seven Anti-Riot Water Cannon Trucks.
“The Force under IGP Adamu has also achieved the Completion and launch of the Nigeria Police National Command and Control Centre (NPF-C4i), the first phase of the Nigeria Police Crime and Incident Data Centre (NPC & IDB),” Jabbi said.
He wondered why a force that had achieved so much would be subjected to public protests and condemnation, noting that rather than attack, the police should be commended for their fight against criminality.
Jabbi expressed fears that the ongoing protest against the police could be hijacked by enemies of the country.
“We are worried, that rather than encourage and appreciate the selfless commitment of our policemen to the protection of our national security, some people, have dedicated themselves to the task of blackmailing and instigating Nigerians against the police.
“This is in order to cover up for series of their atrocities, against our motherland.
“IGP Adamu has allowed reasoning to prevail by announcing a ban on the activities of SARS.
“We wish to state that the #EndSARS campaigns against the Police are calculated attempts to derail the ongoing war against crime in the country.
“The Police in spite of their untiring effort in combating crimes in the country are not afraid of submitting themselves to public scrutiny as it has often been demonstrated by IGP Adamu-led leadership of the Nigerian Police since he took over,” Jabbi added.
He, however, called for a holistic reformation of the Nigeria Police which would see an efficient and professional well-equipped police with improved funding.
This, he said would go a long way to curtail some of the excesses of the police while on assignment or operation.
Also, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), on Wednesday in Abuja urged #EndSARS protesters to stop distracting the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) from discharging its statutory duties.
Mr Olayemi Success, one of the leaders of the CSOs, who addressed newsmen, said that the CSOs were worried that the protesters were distracting security agencies from focusing on the task of protecting Nigerians against criminals.
“We are aware of pockets of protest demanding for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad SARS.
“We are also aware that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), in a sheer display of professionalism and best regard for democratic tenets, yielded to the call and disbanded SARS.
“We are surprised that the protesters have continued with their trade which is uncalled for and unacceptable.
“The continued protest is ill-conceived. Even the initial protest was not in our best interest considering the advantage and usefulness of SARS in the curbing of crimes in Nigeria.
“The advantages overwhelmingly outweigh their few mistakes, so such protests could be highly demoralizing.”
He explained that the solidarity march from Unity fountain to force headquarters in Abuja was intended to boost the morale of personnel of the NPF.
On his part, Malam Kabiru Dallah, the Co-Convener of the CSOs, said that most well-meaning Nigerians appreciated the sacrifices of the Police in securing the country.
“Whoever sees the Police as an enemy is a suspect,” he declared.
He, however, commended the Inspector General of Police for creating the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWATT), to replace the disbanded SARS.
Meanwhile, a member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Wole Oke (PDP-Osun) has said mere change of name of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) squad would not end Police brutality against the citizens.
Oke made the observation in a statement he issued on Wednesday in Abuja while reacting to the initiative.
Oke who represents Obokun/Oriade Federal Constituency of Osun pointed out that police brutality against citizens was not only rooted in SARS or FSARS but in the entire policing system.
Oke, who is also the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, however, stated that both the Federal Government and the Police authorities should take a deep look into the discipline and welfare of the personnel of the force.
“Police personnel must be earning a living wage, increase their salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens, give them decent accommodation and adequate medical care
“A situation where other Para-military personnel earn more than the police should be discouraged; an average police officer works more than some military personnel, yet is underpaid.
“The Police should be removed from the Pension contribution scheme just like the Military and other Security Services Community or in the alternative the Federal Government should bear the cost of their own contributions to the scheme.
“Budgetary allocation to the Police Force from the Headquarters to the Divisional levels should be implemented to the latter.
“A Policeman should live in a decent accommodation; have access to sound medical care, good mode of transportation, appear decent and in good uniform to be provided by the government.
“There must be subsidy for the education of at least two children and a maximum of four children.
“If the government can do all these things, we will have a committed and disciplined Police Force of our choice; SARS or SWAT is just an appellation,” he said.
The lawmaker commended the nation’s Youth and other Nigerians who were in the forefront of the #EndSARS campaign for their courage and patriotism.
He, however, appealed to those still protesting on the streets not to be violent just as he urged the police to avoid manhandling protesters.
According to him, the protesters are only exercising their constitutional rights and should not be subjected to any form of inhuman treatment.