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Protest in Port Harcourt as youths defy ‘unconstitutional’ ban

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Peaceful #PortHarcourtEndSARSProtest at Government House now. Photo Credit: @AskPHPeople

Despite the ‘unconstitutional’ ban of EndSARS protest in Rivers State by the governor, youths have gathered in their hundreds to peacefully protest against the controversial anti-robbery squad that has been linked to widespread torture and killings in Nigeria.

The State’s governor Nyesom Wike on Monday said he has prohibited all forms of protest in the state including the protest against police brutality.

“All proposed protests under #EndSars Campaign are hereby prohibited,” Rivers State information commissioner Paul Nsirim said in a statement on Monday night.

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The ban on protests by the governor runs contrary to the provision of Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of association for citizens.

In spite of the governor’s order, the Nigerian youths have gathered at Pleasure Park and promised to march to the governor’s office.

Footages shared on Twitter show the protesters are unarmed and are marching peacefully to a destination.

The Port Harcourt protesters are joined by several other protesters across the country even despite the dissolution of SARS.

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Despite forcing the president to disband the SARS, the protesters are not satisfied as they want total police reforms and for officers in the rogue department to face justice.

But according to Muhammadu Buhari the disbanding of the anti-robbery squad “is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reform, to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law-enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihoods,” Buhari said in a speech on national television on Monday.

“We will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice,” he said.

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Buhari said the government deeply regrets the death of a protester who was killed by police on Saturday, and he promised a full investigation. He also acknowledged the “genuine concerns” of the protesters over the “excessive use of force and in some cases extrajudicial killings” by the police.

At least four deaths have been recorded after Saturday.

The vast majority of the police are “hard-working and diligent,” he insisted. “The few bad eggs should not be allowed to tarnish the image and reputation of the force.”

But human-rights groups have found evidence that the problem is far more serious than just a few “bad eggs.”

A report by Amnesty International in June, for example, documented 82 cases of extortion, torture, and ill-treatment by the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) from January 2017, to May 2020.

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