Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana, has asked the Federal Government to hold talks with #EndSARS protesters and grant their demands, the same way it negotiates with terrorists.
Falana said this on Wednesday during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today.
“The government must engage in dialogue with leaders of the protesting groups,” he said. “After all, the government negotiates with terrorists so why don’t you negotiate with patriots like the young men and women that are protesting all over the country.”
He believes that the talks backed by steps that meet the demands of Nigerians who have taken to the streets are the only way the government can end the nationwide protests.
One of the necessary steps is for the Federal Government to ensure that protesters are protected.
Another, according to him, is for a full-fledged inquiry into the outright killings of Nigerians by police officers.
He also called on state Attorneys-General to take over the prosecution of cases.
Nigeria currently does not run a state policing system and that limits the control governors have over security matters regarding their states.
Falana, however, says that with nearly 98 percent of crimes in the country committed at the state level, there is the need for a more decentralised system of policing.
He said, “There has to be a full-fledged inquiry that will support a judicial commission of inquiry not a judicial commission of inquiry that will seat in camera (private) like the Ayo Salami judicial commission of inquiry. This one will seat in the open like the Oputa Panel and they will investigate the atrocities, the outright killings.
“Finally, I’m calling on the state Attorneys-General because 98% of criminal offences in Nigeria are state offences. Let our Attorneys-General take over the prosecution of cases in Nigeria. Moreso, that the Police Act 2020 has prohibited policemen and women from prosecuting in our courts so, the state government will have to engage lawyers to take over the prosecution of cases in all our courts.
“If the government can put all this in place in the next three days, the young men and women can now be persuaded to leave the streets,” he said.
Falana’s comments come about 24 hours after the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, set up a new unit called the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team, to replace the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Unit (SARS), after nationwide protests over series of allegations of police brutality and human rights violations.
Despite the development, the protests have continued as many Nigerians suspect the new unit may amount to a mere change of name.
As the protest continued on Wednesday with many rejecting the SWAT unit, the police said no member of SARS will be in the unit and referred to the unit as Tactical Unit rather than SWAT.
The police did not state whether it has changed the name of the unit from SWAT to Tactical Unit as an image (below) the force tweeted on Wednesday suggested.
Just like many Nigerians, Mr Falana believes that the problems go beyond a name change and, therefore, more concrete steps ought to be taken to bring about real change to policing in Nigeria.
“The young people are not talking about SARS or SWAT alone, they want a new policing system in the country,” he said.