Amnesty International has said that the Nigerian Government was yet to show convincing commitment to bringing an end to the lawless activities of personnel of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force.
AI said Nigerian authorities had failed to tackle the impunity enjoyed by SARS, whose brutality and corruption was becoming increasingly brazen despite repeated pledges to reform the police squad and investigate violations committed by its officers.
Reacting to the latest move by the police to reform SARS and bar them from engaging on routine patrol, AI described the act as another lame attempt by the authorities.
“This is yet another lame attempt to rein in this unit of the Nigerian police which is notorious for the widespread torture and other ill-treatment of Nigerians. We have seen from bitter experience that past investigations into violations were either never carried out or marred by irregularities. To date, the Nigerian authorities have yet to show a genuine commitment to ending the lawless activities of SARS,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“Such abuses will only be prevented when SARS officers are held to account for their actions and face disciplinary or criminal punishment if they are found to be responsible for human rights violations,” Ojigho added.
AI recalled that In August 2018, the Nigerian Government set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the activities of SARS and make recommendations for reform.
It noted that the commission’s report had yet to be made public almost two years after the panel submitted its findings to the government.
“The authorities have an obligation to protect Nigerians and bring to justice those who violate their human rights.
“Unless the authorities follow through with their promises to reform SARS and end the frequent extortion and ill-treatment of Nigerians, their empty words will be just that,” said Ojigho.
Amnesty added that the government must empower oversight bodies including the Police Service Commission, Committee Against Torture and the National Human Rights Commission to investigate and initiate prosecution of police officers, who are involved in the violation of human rights.
SaharaReporters earlier reported how the Inspect-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, was forced to issue a new directive on the operations of SARS following a public outcry calling for the end of unit.
Part of the directives include the ban of SARS operatives in engaging on routine stop-and-search, checking of citizens’ phones and gadgets without approval as well as the incessant harassment of citizens.
This latest directive makes it the seventh time in four years that the police will be moving to curb the highhandedness and extrajudicial activities of SARS operatives.