Against the backdrop of the recent #EndSARS agitation for reforming the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said that the police acted maturely, adding that the police was already reformed.
He based his assertion on the reaction by the police personnel to the attacks mounted against them by youth during the disturbances in the wake of the recent protests.
According to him, despite the attacks and killing of some policemen, the personnel did not retaliate unlike what would have happened in the past.
Malami, therefore, saluted the Nigerian Police for the mature way it handled the protests around the country.
He was speaking at a parley with foreign media practitioners organized on Monday night by the office of the Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Femi Adesina, at the presidential villa, Abuja
He said: “How does the reform of police now translate into manifestation associated with the EndSARS incident.
“I think the answer is clear; for the first time in over past 20 years, we do not have incidences associated with massive loss of lives by way of reactions of the police.
“And in effect, we eventually have in our hands an incident where 20 policemen were provocatively killed by purported protesters without counter reactions by way of counter provocative attacks on the part of the public.
“What further evidence do you need of a reform of the police force in a situation whereby as nation our security outfit, security personnel and indeed our security infrastructure are being attacked with impunity to such an extent that over 200 police stations were set ablaze without provocative reactions on the part of the police?
“I think I have made my point that we do not only have a reformed police force arising from the legislative frameworks that are in place, but we have an established proof of reform both in terms of attitude, sentiment and associated reactions on the part of the police.”
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Malami, however, maintained that the Federal Government had directed that all cases of police brutality and maltreatments of innocent citizens by security personnel should be investigated and culprits should be brought to book.
He assured that the federal government would continue to ensure institutional provisions to the NPF to enhance the quality of policing in the country.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Defence, retired Major-Gen Bashir Magashi, debunked the allegation that soldiers were ordered to shoot at #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate in October.
He affirmed that the incident, which reportedly led to the death of many peaceful protesters, was being investigated by both the federal and Lagos State governments.
Magashi appealed to the media to refrain from speculative reports on the incident as government was doing all it could to identify and prosecute all those behind the crisis.
In his remark at the engagement, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, dismissed the assertion that the #EndSARS protests would affect the smooth consideration and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the National Assembly.
While the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, who highlighted the state of the nation’s economy, reiterated the commitment of the government to ensure full implementation of the five-point demand of youths occasioned by the #EndSARS protests.
She also expressed the readiness of the Federal Government to complement the efforts of those state governments that established Compensation Fund meant to compensate families of victims of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) killings.
Meanwhile, the Presidency has expressed concern over the foreign media practitioners’ reports on the #EndSARS protests, which it believed had been fraught with misinformation.
Adesina, who gave this position at the parley, condemned what he described as deliberate misinformation and inaccurate reports of the protests in the country.
He explained that the meeting was part of the ongoing critical engagements with both local and international media aimed at ensuring better understanding of events in the country.
According to the presidential spokesman, “There have been different kinds of reportage, particularly from the international media, some informed; some not quite informed and some downright incorrect.
“We just felt it was necessary to invite these international journalists so that we can share perspectives with them and it can condition their reportage positively, because if they have background information I don’t think journalists will set out deliberately to skew reports.
“At times, their reports end up being skewed because they do not have enough information.
“So, that is why we held this meeting so that the necessary background information that they can condition their reportage.
“There should be no end to engagements. We should continue to engage – engage with local journalists and engage with international journalists.
“Engagement should be a continuous process because through engagements we can forge better understanding.”
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