Sequel to the fallout of the #EndSARS protests and the consequent violence that followed, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu has asked police officers to return to their duty posts.
He asked them not to leave the public space open for criminals to take charge.
The IGP stated that policemen are free to defend themselves when faced with danger while carrying out their responsibilities in their places of deployment.
He noted that #EndSARS protests later hijacked by hoodlums were caused by fake news.
Adamu stated these while addressing police officers at the Edo headquarters in the Government Reservation Area (GRA) Benin during a working visit to boost their morale after inspecting burnt police stations in Edo.
The IGP was accompanied by Edo Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu; Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) Zone 5, Shola David, and Commissioner of Police Babatunde Kokumo.
He said: “The attacks on the police and police stations were to demoralise you (policemen) to humiliate you and to make you feel that you do not have support at all in the members of the public, but it is not the case.
“Policemen are special breeds in this country because they are specially trained to do the duties that other people are not able to do.
“That is why despite all these attacks on you, you absorbed them, you came out and you are doing your lawful duties of maintaining law and order, and making sure that crimes are not committed within the society.
“I encourage you to continue to do that. Do not be demoralised. You do not need to leave the public space open for criminals to take charge. You need to occupy everywhere.”
Adamu also stated despite the #EndSARS protests and attacks on the police, they also got open support from President Muhammadu Buhari while urging them to be resilient.
He said: “Do not forget Force Order 237. Read and digest it very well and know when you should use firearms. Use your firearms in a lawful manner, because you are law-enforcement agents.
‘’When you use your firearms wrongly, that is when you will see people protesting. One of the ways you should use your firearms will be when your life is in danger and there is no other way to escape. It does not make sense for a policeman to die, while he is carrying a rifle.”
The IGP, while giving the background of what led to the massive #EndSARS protests, blamed fake news for the agitations.
He said: “We are all aware of the fake news that spread and caused damage in this country. An incident happened in Ughelli, Delta where police officers were on patrol, a unit called Operation Delta Safe, accosted two individuals.
‘’As a result of that, one of the individuals got out of his vehicle and fell down, and somebody videoed it and sent it to social media and said operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) had killed an individual.
“The incident had nothing to do with SARS. The individual did not die, but because of the fake news, it went viral and people in Ughelli came out to protest. Lagos also took it. Then, the agitations to end SARS came up.
“The agitations to end SARS had been on for a very long time, especially since 2015. The people that were calling for an end to SARS came out peacefully to protest and they came up with some demands.
‘’One of the demands was that SARS should be disbanded. After the protests for about five days, we sat down with them and we disbanded SARS.
“The Federal Government met their five demands. The expectation was that the protests should end and the protesters were supposed to leave the streets, but they did not.
‘’The consequence of not leaving the streets is what we have seen. Hoodlums and some elements within the #EndSARS protests became violent, targeting the police, police institutions, and police stations.
“The violence did not stop in one state. It went to 14 different states. In all the 14 states, it was the same story. In the Southwestern part, especially Lagos State, and in the South-South zone, Edo and Delta States, we had attacks on police stations.
“In Lagos State, it was so terrible that private property was destroyed. Vehicles for public use were destroyed. Houses of individuals and their families were destroyed. This is very unfortunate.”