Nigeria

#EndSARS: Reconstruction must include rebuilding public trust – VP Osinbajo

Yemi Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has has assured that there would be comprehensive justice for all Nigerians affected by police brutality.

Osinbajo gave the assurance in Lagos State at the launch of the Rebuild Lagos Trust Fund.

The VP added that the task of reconstruction goes beyond physical infrastructure or brick and mortar.

He said, “there is a moral, social and ethical reconstruction to be undertaken as well. We must rebuild trust between the Government and the governed; the vast majority of who are young persons; trust between law enforcement agents and the communities that they are meant to serve. Never again should law enforcement find itself on opposite sides of any conflict with society.

“We must in the process rebuild the morale of our police force, the gallant men and women who daily brave the elements to keep us all safe. The process of reform has commenced.”

Prof. Osinbajo stated that the reformed Police Act and the Police Trust Act signed by the President was part of government’s efforts in improving the Police while ensuring the rights of Nigerian citizens are protected.

“After 70 years of the Police Act, Mr. President signed the new reformed Police Act 2020 into law. The new law contains in many parts components of a charter of the rights of citizens when being questioned.

“The President has also signed into law the Police Trust Act, essentially to provide a source of extra funding for the police. Equally, the Police has also initiated its community policing programme aimed at reframing policing as an activity based on trust between law enforcement and the community,” the VP said.

Prof. Osinbajo, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, extended the Federal Government’s “commiserations to the government and people of Lagos State for the loss of lives of citizens, the injured, and the colossal destruction of public and private properties, social amenities and infrastructure.”

Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, was both the epicenter of the #ENDSARS protests and the destruction that followed few weeks ago.

Noting the unfortunate loss of lives and property in Lagos and across the country, the Vice President added that the whole nation was in need of healing and the Buhari administration will pursue restorative justice for all affected.

According to the VP, referencing President Buhari’s commitment to justice, “these deaths should never have happened. It is now our responsibility to honour their memory and ensure that justice is comprehensively served.

“Our State, like our Nation, is in need of healing. We recognize that the balm for a wounded society is truth and justice. This is why judicial panels of inquiry have been established all across the country. Their mandate is to investigate cases of police brutality against citizens, and where necessary compensate victims.

“Specifically, in Lagos, the mandate of the inquiry has been expanded to include a full investigation of the Lekki toll gate incidents. This process has begun and all Federal Agencies and the armed services are participating actively as Mr. President said, and I quote, ”We will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice.”

“The pursuit of restorative justice, recompense for injury to innocents and a reckoning for perpetrators of abuse are essential components of the moral and ethical reconstruction of our homestead. I urge all of us to give this process a chance to work and to commit to the advocacy and participation that it will take to enable this process succeed.”

On the looting and destruction that followed the ENDSARS protests, the Vice President stated, “we have seen how the most noble causes, such as the ENDSARS protests designed to call attention to a serious malignant problem of brutality and extrajudicial killings, can be subverted leading to the exact opposite of its objectives, chaos, murder, looting and arson. We saw what can happen when the restraints of law and order are loosed and anarchy is given free rein.”

“In those difficult days when chaos swept from street to street consuming lives and livelihoods, we learned that society is built on the balance between freedom and order. But we have also realized that order itself is a social construct sustained by the consent of the governed.”

He called for public and private collaboration in the rebuilding and reconstruction of the State, which he noted had not experienced such level of wanton destruction in the past.

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