The ‘ENDSARS’ protest on Monday changed to ‘reform the Police’ in the commercial city of Onitsha as Anambra youths held a massive rally in solidarity with the call for reforms in the Nigeria Police Force.
The exercise saw Anambra citizens and residents under the aegis of concerned youths move from DMGS roundabout to the Central Police Station, Onitsha, calling for reforms in the police and end to police brutality.
The march was also joined by Ohaneze Ndigbo Youth Wing, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Music Artistes and Disc Jockeys (DJs) and many others.
The youths are also asking for freedom for their colleagues wrongfully arrested and detained at the SARS offices at Awkuzu, Neni, Enugwu Ukwu among others.
Speaking during the march, one of the organizers, Chibuike Emmanuel said it was in solidarity with similar protests going on across the country, to register the people’s displeasure over the spate of Police brutality, illegal arrest and detention, extrajudicial killings which they experience in the hands of some police operatives.
“What Nigerians go through in the hands of these rogue policemen is unbearable. The people are now more scared of the policemen than the criminals. The very men paid to protect the people’s lives are the very ones sniffling life out of the people. It is quite unfortunate and Nigerians are saying no all these,” he noted.
A popular comedian, Lord Zeus who recollected his experience in police cell a week ago, said it is pity how people are detained for no just cause in the cells.
“Some of these youths are actually innocent. Some of the people I met were those arrested in connection with the protest of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), over 6 months. Many of them, their families don’t know anything about their whereabout anymore, neither do they have any hope of coming out alive. The Police authorities are by this protest urged to intensify efforts at ensuring that these innocent youths are released unconditionally,” he pleaded.
The Leader of Ohaneze Ndigbo Youth Wing, Anambra State Chapter, Mazi Chukwuma Okpalaezukwu said they were part of the march to ensure that it is not hijacked by hoodlums.
He revealed that Ohaneze has resolved to form a committee that will look into all the positions and grievances of the youths to ensure that impact is maximized and purpose served.
Addressing the youths, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of CPS, Onitsha, DCP Chollom Gyang commended the youths for the peaceful manner they conducted themselves, saying that the protest reflects the beauty of democracy.
“The beauty of democracy is the ability of the people to express their feelings in a lawful manner without harassment. It is heartwarming that the Inspector General of Police, IGP Adamu Mohammed has heard the cries of Nigerians and that was why SARS was disbanded. And he has promised that not just ending SARS but also that the Police force will be reformed. Our appeal to you and other Nigerians is to be patient as the ongoing reforms will yield the kind of Police force our people have yearned for all these years,” he said.
On the persons detained in various SARS facilities across the state, DCP Gyand said the State Command has set up a special police team that will visit the facilities during which those bailable will be bailed while the others will be charged to court.
In his words, “the reason we have a large number of suspects in the cells was due to the COVID-19 pandemic which made it difficult for courts to sit. Now that the courts have reopened, we hope to speed up the legal processes to ensure that we decongest the cells.”