Nigerian lenders will rebuild new fewer than 44 police stations burnt across the country by hoodlums during the #End- SARS crisis that rocked the nation a few weeks ago, New Telegraph learnt yesterday.
An authoritative source said that although like most businesses, the banking industry is still reeling from the massive losses it suffered during the crisis, as many branches and hundreds of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were vandalised and looted, the lenders have taken the decision to rebuild some of the burnt police stations as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
This newspaper also gathered that apart from the plan to rebuild torched police stations, the lenders, under the aegis of the Bankers’ Committee, will soon launch a fresh Youth Empowerment Fund as part of measures to address rising unemployment in the country.
These two laudable initiatives (rebuilding of burnt police stations and the Youth Empowerment Fund), our source said, would be officially announced by the Bankers’ Committee by the end of this month. The #EndSARS crisis broke out on October 20, when security forces in Lagos opened fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate, who had been staging a sit-in for about two weeks, calling for the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious Police unit that had long been accused of extortion, torture and extra-judicial killings.
This sparked widespread social unrest that saw hoodlums torching many police stations and also wounding and killing several police officers across the country. Indeed, the damage inflicted on the law enforcement agents during the crisis was so massive that it led to the disappearance of police operatives from streets of major cities in some parts of the country for several days.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu had, on October 30, said: “Available reports show that 22 police personnel were extra-judicially killed by some rampaging protesters and scores injured during the protests. Many of the injured personnel are in life-threatening conditions at the hospitals. “Two hundred and five police stations and formations, including other critical private and public infrastructure, were also damaged by a section of the protesters. Despite these unprovoked attacks, our police officers never resorted to use of unlawful force or shooting at the protesters as alleged in the report.”
Analysts point out that even before the #EndSARS protests, the Nigeria Police had been grappling with funding and manpower challenges. The source said: “Without adequate security, no businesses and individuals alike will feel safe. So, it is imperative that steps are urgently taken to restore the morale of police officers.”
She also noted that in order to address youth unemployment, which most analysts agree helped fuel the #EndSARS crisis, the Bankers’ Committee has, in recent years, been actively collaborating with the CBN to launch Youth Empowerment programmes. She particularly cited the Agri-Business Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) and the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) as two programmes that are aimed at empowering the youth. New Telegraph recently reported that the CBN partnered with the Federal Government to launch the N75 billion the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (N-YIF).
The N-YIF aims to financially empower Nigerian youths to generate at least 500,000 jobs between 2020 and 2023.