36 states and only 7 governors think the #EndSARS protests are genuine

It is Day 14 of the #EndSARS protests. Nine days since the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, announced the disbandment of the deadly Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), eight days since the #5for5 demands submitted by the protesting youth, eight days since President Muhammadu Buhari last thought protesting youth are tired of police brutality. Three days since Vice President Yemi Osinbajo finally found his lost microphone to soro soke. And, only five days since state governors started intervening in the protests.

It started with Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who, after more than one year in office decided it was time to identify with the youth and listen to their voice. Babajide took the demands of the protesters to President Buhari who simply laughed at the demands and the video shoot ended. Continuing in this ‘efforts’ to stop a national movement from happening, he quickly set up a judicial council made up of old generation civil servants, who understand the system and use it to their advantage.

And, hours after the former governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu asked protesters to go home and stop the #EndSARS protests, Sanwo-Olu has imposed a 24-hour curfew in the state. At this point, expect to see the same police who could not stop the thugs from disrupting peaceful protests to come out en masse to stop peaceful protesters.

His colleague, Anambra’s Willie Obiano, waited for days before he decided that James Nwafor, his senior special assistant on security – who has been severally, for years, accused of brutality and extra-judicial killings – needed to be sacked and subsequently prosecuted.

Days after, Saturday, October 17, 2020, Obiano visited former SARS offices in the State, where he granted three detainees who committed minor offences unconditional bail.

The former offices, located at Neni, Ekwulobia and Awkuzu were visited by the governor, so as to have first-hand knowledge of the state of the facilities.

But, Nwafor could not have been working alone. The stories from SARS Awkuzu will definitely drive you to tears.

Also on Saturday, in Ogun, Dapo Abiodun, set up the Judicial Panel of Investigation to try alleged cases of Police brutalities against citizens of the state. Coming after the Police tried to pin a murder on an innocent protester and several others were arrested. Fortunately, they have all been released but, how do the officers found wanting still have a job with the Police?

The governor of Ekiti, Kayode Fayemi, who doubles as the Chairman of the Governors Forum, started reacting to the protests from October 11, 2020, when he commended the IGP for disbanding the deadly police unit, SARS.

Interestingly, he had to wait for the #EndSARS protests before he called his colleagues to a meeting. Whatever happened to being proactive?

In another meeting with IGP Adamu, the governor’s forum made some recommendations to include reforms, discontinuing the SWAT unit (who have started training despite #EndSWAT), remuneration review for all officers, among other things.

And in another press release, the forum reiterated planned efforts to address the demands of the #EndSARS protesters.

Each State is also expected to kickstart a compensation mechanism for all victims,” the governors said.

In Kaduna, the Judicial Panel has also been set up, after receiving the #SecureNorth protesters at the Government House. The panel will also address Police brutality. And, it had to take a protest to set this up.

The Delta Government, on its own part, promised to establish a Special Security and Human Rights Committee, chaired by the governor. He made this announcement, condemning the country’s leadership (which he is a part of), and family failures.

The governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, stated this while addressing protesters at Government House, Asaba, and said there would not have been a need for the protests if leaders were accountable to the people.

He told the protesters that as the youth of the nation, they had every right to organise themselves to protest against societal ills. You then ask: “What is not in Delta that a Nigerian youth was murdered by men of the Police force? How did he react to this initially before the protest? Was it not that sole incident that inspired Nigerian youth to say enough is enough?”

Then, the social media man of the people, who doubles as the governor of Oyo, Seyi Makinde, was last seen when he visited the families of those who were brutally murdered by those who should be protecting us. It was that time he reportedly gave ₦1 million to victims’ families and ₦100 million to a palace that was affected.

For him, he is an orator, so he will come out with an elaborate speech highlighting all the many measures taken to address police brutality.

On the flip side, Governors of states in the Northern part of Nigeria have rejected the total disbandment of SARS.

Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Plateau governor, Simon Lalong, disclosed this to journalists after a meeting with President Buhari in Abuja on October 15, 2020.

According to Lalong, SARS was not made up of bad elements alone as it also included personnel doing their work diligently, forgetting that more innocent young Nigerians have died in the hands of these officers than we can count the number of good men in the unit.

Indeed, it appears the Nigerian government has been listening to the pleas of the demonstrators, albeit, doing the work at a very slow pace. And, with the several attempts to stop the protests, there is a renewed distrust of the Nigerian government, now in handling actual police reforms.

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