Protesting youths in Imo State that he is with them in their demand that far-reaching reforms be carried out in the Police in Nigeria to bring the operations of the personnel at par with what is obtainable in the civilized world.
The governor, therefore, told the youths to trust him to ensure that all the issues they raised concerning police brutality, unlawful detention of Nigerian youths, harassment, extortion, poor remuneration, and comprehensive reformation in the police are brought to the attention of the powers that be, particularly, President Muhammadu Buhari.
Addressing the #EndSARS protesters at the State Capital Owerri on Tuesday, the governor said he was in support of the peaceful protest to the extent that youths are critical stakeholders in the society and anything that concerns them should be taken seriously because they are leaders of tomorrow.
The Governor thanked the youths for conducting themselves in a manner that did not offend public interest and acknowledged that at the political level they have met and agreed that the compliant of the Nigerian youths are genuine and must be promptly addressed.
He added that preliminary investigations revealed that the relationship between SARS operatives and the youths, including students at the tertiary institutions, has not been cordial.
Governor Uzodimma said disbanding SARS is not the only solution, but that the protest has provided an opportunity for government to look inwards to see what reforms are necessary in the Nigerian Police vis a vis their welfare, remunerations, training, among other things they need to be globally compliant in their mode of operation.
“No nation with its senses will ignore the grievances of the youths because if the nation does so it must have squandered the destiny of that nation. If a nation appreciates the capacity building of her youth population, that nation must have created a better tomorrow for herself,” the governor said and reiterated that, “the matter under contention will be taken very seriously.”
He however enjoined the youths to be their own-man and not to allow anybody, or any political interest, to hijack the protest. He advised them to go about their businesses in a manner that nobody will molest them.
Governor Uzodimma assured the youths of partnership and that his government is working hard to create an enabling environment where every youth will go about their businesses, earning their living genuinely “without unnecessary and undue molestations by any person or group of persons.”
On the call for Nigeria to embark on reform and retraining of the Police the governor said: “Our Police Officers must be trained to be able to match their counterparts all over the world and we are going to do that.”
He reinforced the general notion that the youths are not protesting against the police doing their work, but saying that they should do their work according to international standard. “I am with you on that,” Governor Uzodimma told them.
He assured them that there will be no attacks on them and that nobody will hold the protest against them, reiterating that he has taken their message and will ensure that the message gets to the President of Nigeria who also believes that “the right thing must be done”.
He assured the youths that as the Governor of Imo State “the police must do their job in an ethical manner that will not offend the sensibility of the citizens.”
He used the opportunity to call on Imo youths to work together with him to repair Imo State, saying he is doing everything possible to bequeath to the next generation, “quality youths that will meet the dreams of the founding fathers of State.”
Earlier, the various speakers among the protesting youths who tagged themselves Imo Stars said they are asking not only for the end of SARS operations, but police brutality, justice for youths killed by SARS, prosecution of reckless officers involved in the killing of youths, end to police extortion, intimidation, harassment and unlawful detention of the youths and students of tertiary institutions.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards displayed by the protesters read “End SARS”, “Good cloths don’t make me a criminal”, Stop Police extortion”, “Stop Police Intimidations and Harassments”, “Justice for those killed by SARS”, “Reckless Officers must be prosecuted,” among others.