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UN: Replacing SARS with SWAT will not address police brutality

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The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, has faulted the manner in which the Nigeria police force set up special weapons and tactics (SWAT) to replace the special anti-robbery squad (SARS).

Bachelet said the police swiftly created SWAT “without first addressing some of the root causes of police violence and putting in place sufficient safeguards to prevent future violations.”

She also said “there have been few if any charges” against former SARS operatives “despite abundant evidence” against them.

Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police (IGP), created SWAT after disbanding SARS over allegations of human rights abuses as a result of undue profiling and stereotyping.

Protests against the anti-robbery squad, however, continued under the #EndSARS movement which metamorphosed into agitation for improved governance in addition to justice for victims of police brutality.

On Tuesday, soldiers shot at the protesters while camping at the Lekki tollgate, leading to the death of 12 persons, according to Amnesty International.

In a statement condemning the security clampdown, Bachelet called on Nigerian authorities to “deal decisively with the underlying problem of persistent violations committed by the security forces, and make a far stronger effort to bring police and army personnel guilty of crimes against civilians to justice.”

“While the number of casualties of yesterday’s shooting at the Lekki toll plaza in Lagos is still not clear, there is little doubt that this was a case of excessive use of force, resulting in unlawful killings with live ammunition, by Nigerian armed forces,” she said.

“Reports that the CCTV cameras and lighting were deliberately disabled prior to the shooting are even more disturbing as, if confirmed, they suggest this deplorable attack on peaceful protesters was premeditated, planned and coordinated.”

The UN high commissioner added that the rights of Nigerians to peacefully protest must be respected, describing the reported killings in Lekki as “adding fuel to a fire that was already starting to rage out of control.”

Bachelet said the way to restore trust and bring back peace to the streets of Nigeria is for the authorities to take immediate concrete steps to show they are genuinely committed to tackling impunity, after years of inaction.

“There need to be immediate, independent, transparent and thorough investigations, not just into last night’s killings, but also into all the previous violations committed by security forces,” she said.

“Those appointed to carry out such investigations must not only be independent and impartial but must be widely perceived as such.

“And, where sufficient evidence already exists to warrant charges, immediate suspension of officers – including senior officers — suspected of committing serious crimes, should take place long before the conclusion of such investigations.”

-TheCable

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I’ve no apology for being ‘mad’ about Nigeria ― Obasanjo

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says he has a “mad passion” for Nigeria.

Obasanjo, who stated this when he played host to a presidential aspirant under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mohammed Hayatu-Deen at his Penthouse residence in the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, said he had no apology for being mad about Nigeria “because I have no other country I can call my own and I have no other country I can go to and say yes, I have come to live here.”

According to him, Nigeria needs a leader who is ‘mad’ and passionate about the country to address its myriad problems and put it on the right path.

He said, “Passion means being mad about Nigeria; having a touch of madness and I look at you (Hayatu-Deen) and say yes, you are mad about Nigeria too.”

Obasanjo lamented the deteriorating security situation in the country and insisted that Nigeria could overcome its security challenges within two years with the willingness to make tough decisions.

He said, “Some people say the human memories are short, maybe they are right because if human memories are not short, some of the mistakes that we are making, we will not be making them.

“I believe like you (Hayatu-Deen) have rightly said, that this period is not like any other period in the history of Nigeria and you used two words – decomposing and dissolving. I can’t find any better words to describe the situation we have found ourselves.

“It is an agonising situation for you obviously and also for me. I want to emphasise the point that the Nigerian situation, bad as it is, will only be put right by Nigerians at the forefront of our situation. So, Nigerians have to brace themselves to do what needs to be done to put Nigeria back on the right path.”

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Hayatu-Deen who came in the company with his team at 12.30pm went into a closed-door meeting with Obasanjo which lasted for about an hour before speaking with journalists.

The former Managing Director of FSB International Bank, described Obasanjo as a father of modern Nigeria whose administration recorded tremendous achievements.

Speaking at the state PDP secretariat, Hayatu-Deen said he possessed the capacity, experience and knowledge to govern Nigeria.

The aspirant, who said he had been to several parts of Nigeria, including South-West, stressed that he is a passionate and complete Nigerian.

He said, “My blood is Nigerian blood. I had seen Nigeria with the eyes of a Nigerian and not from the perspective of a tribal man. I am prepared to govern Nigeria from the first day of inauguration on May 29, 2023.

“We are suffering from self-inflicted wounds. As an economist, I know how to fix the economy. I will provide social security, I will provide Energy Security, I will deal with the issue of national insecurity.”

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Just in: No bail for Nnamdi Kanu, says court

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A federal high in Abuja has refused to grant bail to Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Kanu was re-arraigned on an amended 15-count charge bordering on treasonable felony.

However, on April 8, Binta Nyako, the judge, struck out eight out of the 15-count charge.

While counts 6,7,9,10,11,12,13 and 14 were struck out, the defendant is to stand trial on counts 1,2,3,4,5,8 and 15.

Kanu’s lead counsel, Mike Ozekhome, moved an application for bail.

Ozekhome said, “Until a person is tried and convicted, he should be allowed to walk free.”

He reminded the court that a defendant ought to enjoy the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

He begged the court to consider the deteriorating health condition of the defendant.

Ruling on the bail application on Wednesday, the judge held that “the application is premature and refused with liberty to refile and reapply.”

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Fed Govt puts Facebook under watch over IPOB

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Information, Culture & Tourism Minister Lai Mohammed

FACEBOOK and other social media platforms have been cautioned against yielding their platforms to the members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to incite violence and instigate ethnic hatred in Nigeria.

The Federal Government gave the instruction through Information, Culture & Tourism Minister Lai Mohammed at a meeting with a team from Facebook.

In a statement signed by his media aide, Mr. Segun Adeyemi, the minister said since IPOB had been proscribed and classified as a terrorist organisation, Facebook has no justification to continue allowing its platform to be used by the organisation to further its campaign of hate and destabilisation of the country.

Mohammed was quoted as saying: “I have called this meeting to enable us to discuss the increasing use of Facebook by separatists and anarchists, especially those of them based outside the country, to instigate violence and ethnic hatred in Nigeria.

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“For whatever reason, they seem to have now chosen Facebook as their platform of choice. And their tools include disinformation, incendiary statements and hate speech.

“They use Facebook broadcasts to reach their followers, who are in thousands. They tag those opposed to their violent ways as ‘saboteurs’ who must be attacked, maimed and killed. They use both English and their local language as it suits them.”

He said the actions of the outlawed group have real-life implications, adding: “By purveying hate and inciting violence, people are getting killed while private and public property are being attacked and destroyed. Security agencies and other symbols of government are their choice targets.”

The minister said that despite the numerous complaints to Facebook on the activities of IPOB, nothing has been done by the company to curtail the group’s excesses on the social media platform.

He said: “Our social media people have been monitoring these separatists, anarchists and purveyors of hate, and have been reporting their atrocious actions to Facebook, but all they get are default responses that their complaints have been received and are being looked into.

“Most often than not, nothing has been done about such complaints… The truth is that whatever Facebook is doing to check these people is mere tokenism and is totally ineffective.”

Mohammed said the government would be monitoring Facebook and other platforms closely in the days ahead to ensure compliance with the demand, as it steps up the campaign for the responsible use of social media.

He said: “We have always advocated a responsible use of social media, and consistently called on all stakeholders to join us in achieving this. Some have tagged our efforts as an attempt to stifle social media.

“They are wrong, because we have no intention of preventing Nigerians from using social media responsibly. All we have been advocating is a responsible use of social media,” the minister said.

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