On Sunday, hundreds of young anti-SARS protesters stormed the Nigeria House in New York demanding transparency in the disbandment of the police unit in Nigeria.
The protesters said operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad found wanting should be sacked and not redeployed.
One of the protesters was Stephen “Papi” Ojo, the artist, model, and choreographer who stole the show as the ‘blue-guy’ in Beyoncé’s “Already” music video.
The protest started shortly after the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, announced the dissolution of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad and also disclosing that plans for a new arrangement to address anticipated policing gaps following the disbandment, and the constitution of an investigative team to probe the alleged cases of rights violations, among others.
But the protesters, who bore placards with different inscriptions includes, “We no want audio ban”
They argued that previous commitments announced by the force to change the behaviour of SARS operatives and other personnel had no effect.
The protest organisers, Miss Omobolanle Adams, “We are not buying that because they told us in 2017 that SARS had been banned from a lot of things, but they continued”
“We don’t want back-door politics, we don’t want back-door negotiations"
“We want President Muhammadu Buhari to speak directly to us. We want justice for people that were murdered, raped, and assaulted"
“We want the SARS operatives responsible brought to book and at the end of the day, we don’t want them redeployed to other units. We want them gone”
However, in a series of tweets on Friday, the president assured Nigerians of his determination to end police brutality and bring “erring personnel to justice”
Buhari, blaming the bad reputation of SARS on some bad apples said his administration’s “determination to reform the police should never be in doubt”, and sued for calm.
He also noted that most police officers were committed to protecting Nigerians.
Another leader of the protest, Peter Johnson, reiterated that there was no transparency in the reported dissolution of the outfit
“They gave us a very generic message. I, personally, feel like we need to see actual results"
“We need to see a plan of where the operatives are going, because people are still going to die”
‘Papi’ Ojo, while addressing other protesters, said he relocated to the US at the age of 11, and was afraid to visit home because he had lost two uncles to SARS.
The 23-year-old said the unity and courage displayed by Nigerians in the protest had given him strength to return and make a change.
“As I speak, I am still afraid, but I can’t keep living in fear anymore because I have relations back home calling me to help"
“So, I am begging everyone here that is afraid like me to stand up and help in whatever way we can to effect the desired change back home”