The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on Monday demanded a complete overhaul of Nigeria’s policing and security agencies.
They said this must start with service chiefs’ removal as well as the involvement of responsible opinion in initiatives that would address the manner the nation was designed to be policed and secured.
The NEF, in a statement by its Director, Publicity and Advocate, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed, said the spirit deployed against Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) should be visited on policing and securing the North.
It said hundreds of thousands of people in Northern communities had been at the mercy of bandits, kidnappers and rustlers without any form of police protection.
“It is clear that many things are seriously wrong with our policing and security institutions if the same institutions will be accused of extra-judicial acts by some citizens and virtual non-existence by other citizens.
“It is not acceptable that thousands of our fellow citizens in the North will be virtually abandoned to armed criminals and a vicious insurgency, and the Nigeria police will get a slap on the wrist for acts that go against the core of its mandate in other areas of its responsibility,” it stated.
The forum said President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to order the scrapping of SARS and the reorganisation and investigations into its excesses, should be placed in the context of the huge demands that had been made for the President to address serious shortfalls in the country’s policing and security institutions.
“There have been many cases of abuse that ought to have been checked by this and earlier administrations, but were ignored or treated with levity owing to very low levels of respect for accountability.
“It is a sad commentary on the manner this administration approaches sensitive matters such as security of citizens that it had to be forced into taking this decision after serious damage to the integrity and credibility of our policing and security institutions.”
The forum appealed to Nigerians to show the highest levels of restraint and maturity in the defence of their rights adding that “under no circumstances should we encourage acts that increase our exposure to crime, lawlessness and insecurity.”