He said this while addressing the media at the New Afrika Shrine, Lagos where a protest against Police brutality took place on Friday, April 5, 2019.
The protest was in reaction to of Kolade Johnson, a 36-year-old who was killed on Sunday, March 31, 2019 when the Special Anti-Cultism Squad (SACS) of the Lagos State Police Command was attempting to arrest another man because of his dreadlocks in the Mangoro area of Lagos.
Kuti said that the protest is not an attempt to undermine or scrap the Police Force but to demand a reform of the system that’ll make it work in the interest of the people and not kill them unlawfully.
Describing Kolade’s fatal shooting as one too many tragic excesses of the Force that should not be condoned, Kuti said a change is important.
“We’re not against the Police. We’re saying the complete orientation of the Police must change into positiveness.
“The Police works for us and must defend its citizens. The Police cannot go and kill its citizens. We pay our taxes so the Police must defend us.
“We’re not saying scrap the Police Force, of course, there’ll be crime. If Police is properly equipped then Police can protect us against crime,” he said.
At least a dozen people participated in the protest on Friday, demanding justice for Johnson, the deceased father of one, and an end to Police brutality in the country.
Segun ‘Segalink’ Awosanya, an activist and major campaigner against Police brutality, called for the scrapping of all ‘killer’ Police squads in the country.
While addressing the group of protesters on Friday, Awosanya said killer squads in the Nigeria Police Force have been working against the interest of the Nigerian people for too long and must be stopped.
The activist focused his demand against the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), the Special Anti-Kidnapping Squad (SAKS) and SACS, units that he said enjoy a free reign of impunity because they operate without a visible command and control structure.
“When our country is saddled with a Police Force that operates outside the bounds of law, without operational restraint, what we get are not only killer squads that reign supreme but a Police Force that has gone rogue killing and maiming defenceless citizens.
“The lives of all citizens matter and we must continue to demand that men and women of the Police Force respect the sanctity of life and the lives of all Nigerians.
“In light of the foregoing, therefore, we restate that all ad hoc squads within the Police Force be scrapped and their responsibilities transferred to the discernible structures within the Police Force,” he said.
Awosanya added that the operational responsibilities of the accused units can be properly handled by the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) and its substructure, the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID).
Other demands made by the activist include the implementation of new and updated operational guidelines and use of arms which respect Nigerians’ rights to life; the payment of monetary compensation to all families of citizens killed by rogue operatives; and the criminal prosecution of police officers named in the killings of Nigerians.
He also called on the National Assembly to pass the Police Reform Bill, set to be laid before the Senate on Tuesday, April 9, and pass it to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent. He further called on the president to sign the bill without delay so that Nigerians don’t continue to endure an unjust system.
“I’m hopeful and expectant that when this bill comes, within the same week the president will sign it into law because anything short of that, we’ll take to the streets and we’ll not go back in until that bill is done because we’re the ones dying not their children,” he told Pulse.
He assured that the demands are driven by his commitment to ensure that the country and its security forces place a premium on the lives of Nigerians, particularly the youths who he said have become target practice for the menacing operatives of the killer squads.
The Lagos convener of Concerned Nigerians, Adelaja Adeoye, said Nigerians must not relent in reporting Police brutality so that oppressors can be kept on their toes. He said FSARS has outlived its relevance and called for comprehensive reform of the Force.
“We’re asking the Federal Government to properly equip the Police, meaning that everybody from the IGP to the last person in the Police must feel the reform,” he said.