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Governors condemn SWAT creation timing, suggest comprehensive consultation

By Idowu Abdullahi

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has faulted timing of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team set up by the Inspector General of Police, Muhammad Adamu, to replace the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit of Nigeria Police Force.

It explained that though there was need for creation of another unit that would fill the gap arising from the dissolution of the defunct squad, there was need for proper consideration by the force leadership in gauging moods of Nigerians who had lost trust in the force.

The forum argued that the time was against positive intention of the unit’s creation and that since the youth were still protesting, the moment was wrong for establishment of any tactical team that could be seen as merely a change of name for the disbanded SARS.

Rising from an emergency meeting held on Wednesday, the 36 governors under the aegis of NGF, said that rather than hurriedly set up a replacement for the defunct unit, the force leadership would have garner the public support by consulting various stakeholders, including youths representatives duly selected by the protesters.

Through a communique issued at end of its 19th teleconference meeting and signed by the NGF’s Chairman, Kayode Fayemi, the governors maintained that any reforms that was devoid of proper stakeholders’ engagement would be greeted with contempt as being currently witnessed in the country.

The governors while commending the force for its commitments to reform, advised that there should be avenues for contributions and comments from the public and other stakeholders in its journey to regain public confidence and acceptability.

“Governors were unanimous in their support for the IGP and endorsed his plans to carry out far-reaching reforms geared towards greater effectiveness, accountability and transparency; for it to effectively carry out its regulatory and supervisory roles in the Nigerian Constitution.

“On the IGP’s Plan to create SWAT, Governors stated that even though the effort might be necessary and in good faith, they argued that the inauspicious as the mood of the nation negates it and may understandably be misinterpreted as a surreptitious move to dress FSARS in another garb

“Governors agreed that there was a need for greater consultations with the public before any decision is taken; Governors, advised the IGP to immediately convene a meeting of all stakeholders and agree on a format of engagement with all state officials in order to address mater arising.

“Governors empasised that reforms must include the training and retraining of operatives on the rules of engagement with the general public, policing in Nigeria must ensure freedom for all Nigerians to carry out lawful and legitimate businesses anywhere in the country without fear of harassment, intimidation or molestation.

“Governors advised that throughout the reform process, the room for consultation may include sessions and direct feedback from the public, stressing that there are no single solutions that apply to all the 36 states of the federation and the capital territory,” the communique read.

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