President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that his administration was waiting for Lagos, Rivers, Oyo, Ogun among other states of the federation for white papers on reports of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution investigating cases of brutality as well as human rights violations committed by dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) across the states, saying his government was committed to rule of law and justice.
He noted that the Federal Government under his watch would allow the system to exhaust itself, and would wait for pronouncements from state governments which set up panels to probe police brutality in the country before taking necessary action such that would ensure total closure for families of victims of the menace.
“So many state governments are involved, and have given different terms of reference to the probe panels. We at the Federal have to wait for the steps taken by the states, and we have to allow the system to work. We can’t impose ideas on them. Federal Government has to wait for the reaction of the states,” Buhari said on Thursday at State House, Abuja, while receiving in audience the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.
On the recent removal of Nigeria from watchlist of countries violating religious freedom, which Blinken said was “based on facts,” Buhari expressed the country’s appreciation, noting that there was freedom of worship in Nigeria, and no one was discriminated against on the basis of his or her faith.
He said education is a priority in the country, “because when you educate a people, there are certain levels they will not fall below.” The president equally appreciated the United States of America for allowing Nigeria to procure military hardware to fight terrorism in the country, and for the training given to Nigerian military.
“It’s helping us to stabilize the situation in the Northeast, and we’ve made a lot of progress since 2015,” he said. “We are doing a lot on security, and the people involved appreciate our efforts.”
On development of democratic ethos, Buhari said that Nigeria has adopted the American model, “hook, line, and sinker, with its term limits. Those who have attempted to breach it were disappointed, if not disgraced. You are even lucky if you have two terms. Others try hard, and don’t get it. The American model has been accepted by Nigerians as the best.”
Nigeria and her neighbors, the President noted, have been living with the impact of climate change for a while, which has seen the Lake Chad shrink drastically from its original size, and affected the livelihood of about 30 million people in the Lake Chad Basin countries.
“That is why the youths defy the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean to attempt emigrating to Europe. Inter-basin water transfer is needed to keep the youths at home, and they can resume their lives of farming, fishing, and animal husbandry.”
On his part, Blinken, who had held a virtual meeting with the Nigerian President earlier in the year said jocularly that it was now good to see him “mask to mask, hoping that we will soon see face to face.”
He appreciated the contributions of Buhari to protection of the climate, particularly his presence and contributions at the recent COP26 climate conference held in Glasgow, Scotland. Blinken said that America and Nigeria have diverse challenges, but a common denominator is security, and hoped for better partnerships, “so that the bad guys won’t get the good guys.”
He described the report of the EndSARS probe panel as “democracy in action,” stressing that America equally had its own police brutality, and hoping that necessary reforms would be made.