A prominent legal practitioner and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Adeniyi Akintola, has narrated the ordeal of his son-in-law in the hands of operatives of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force.
Speaking with SaharaReporters on Monday, Akintola said the concentration of power at the central government in Nigeria is the root of numerous deficits, including the police brutality negating the West African country.
Last week, Nigerian youth began #EndSARS protests, calling on the Federal Government to scrap SARS in the country.
Their agitations were hinged on the criminality and brutality of SARS against citizens.
It was demonstrated at major cities including Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, Warri, Ughelli, Ogbomoso and others.
The demonstrations at different places of the country were championed by celebrities in the entertainment industry.
The likes of the British-Nigerian actor, John Boyega, and music artistes like Runtown, Tiwa Savage, Falz were the frontliners of the demonstrations.
President Muhammadu Buhari and Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, addressed the nation, calling for calm, which later resulted in disbandment of the police unit.
Akintola, who was a member of Oyo State House of Assembly, called on the Federal Government to embrace the restructuring of the country in which the regions are developed at their own pace.
He, however, said that the protest was the tip of the iceberg unless the country restructured.
“The demonstration for EndSARS is just the tip of the iceberg of what to come, it is the tip of the iceberg of what to expect,” said Akintola.
“The lopsidedness of the system of government we are running is the problem of this country, including the brutality of SARS.
"If we are running a proper federal system of government, there would have been no need for SARS in the first place. Most of the crimes that are staring us in the face wouldn’t have been there. It is the overcentralisation of authority that breeds corruption, and corruption breeds crime.
“Over centralisation of authority breeds inefficiency. There are basic fundamental issues that we have to start looking at in reforming the Nigeria Police. We just need restructure in the country. There is no federal country in the world that has central police. Nigeria is full of central this, central that.
“One of the cardinal principles of federalism is that every component part should be allowed to develop at its own pace. Now, if we’re running true federalism, there would have been state and local government police. Everybody within their local community will know each other, but today what do we have?
”I don’t know of any family in Nigeria, especially in the Southern part of the country that has not fallen victim of SARS’ high-handedness and overbearing attitude. For instance, my son-in-law was just recounting his experience again this morning. He had a gun put on his head by SARS, not pointed at him, put on his head! They were asking him how he came about the car he was driving. A medical doctor coming from his hospital at Yaba! They were telling him they would waste him and nothing would happen.
“Another case was that of my daughter coming from work also in the evening by 6:00pm. They stopped her asking where she got her car from. When they pointed their gun at her, she had to tell them that “I’m calling my dad now,” mentioning my name, and they left immediately after hearing that. You can now imagine millions of Nigerians who do not have access to anybody of note who they can mention. You can imagine many people that have been killed by these SARS, just putting one crime case on him or her.
“Why must we have central police in Nigeria? Britain which is one-quarter of Nigeria’s population does not have central police. Britain has.Even, the United States has many police departments from state quarters, including universities registered with authorities. Reverse is the case in Nigeria because we have people that have cornered the police for their selfish interests. The demonstration for EndSARS is just the tip of the iceberg of what to come, it is the tip of the iceberg of what to expect.”
The former Oyo State All Progressives Congress governorship aspirant also said that those, who were involved with the police during the demonstrations had free legal services of 11 law firms in the country.
“As I’m telling you now, I’ve heard of 11 law firms including mine that are offering free legal services for anybody affected by this SARS movement just to show you the popularity of this demonstration. We are offering it free of cost,” he said.
SaharaReporters, New York