• Amnesty asks FG to implement report on SARS
• Canvasses training to change officers’ mindset
Global Rights, an international human rights non-governmental organization, has disclosed that no fewer than 122 cases of extra-judicial killings were recorded in Nigeria between January and October 4, 2020 alone.
The organisation claimed that the extra-judicial killings resulted from the extortion and harassment by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), trigger-happy police officers, clashes with the locals and dispersal of protest and agitation.
The Country Director of Global Rights, Mrs. Abiodun Baiyewu released the new report to THISDAY at the weekend, detailing the occurrences of extra-judicial killings across the federation in each month.
Major cities had witnessed widespread protests across the federation, calling for the outright scrapping of SARS, an arm of the Nigeria Police that had been accused of killing and maiming the youths extra-judicially.
The most recent incident involved a young Nigerian in Ughelli, Delta State on October 3. This incident reportedly typifies the extra-judicial activities of some SARS operatives across the federation.
With the public disapproval that followed it, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu suspended all tactical squads of the Nigeria Police – SARS, Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and Anti-Cultism Squad.
Despite the decision of the inspector-general, thousands of Nigerians, especially youths and women groups, had been protesting the extra-judicial activities of all the tactical squads of the police.
But in its update, Global Right put the total number of extra-judicial killings recorded in the country between January and October 4 at 122, which its country director described as unfortunate and unacceptable.
In January, according to the organisation, five persons were killed extra-judicially; 20 in February; seven in March; 24 in April; eight in May; 16 in June; six in July; 30 in August; four in September and two in October so far.
It claimed that SARS was not the only unit of the police that committed the crime as it added that operatives of the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Custom Service (NCS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and Nigerian Army were also culpable.
With this record of extra-judicial killing nationwide, Baiyewu observed that Nigeria’s threshold for violence “is inordinately high especially considering that the country is not at war
“Citizens are contending not just with the insecurity meted on them by organized criminal groups, but also by official security forces, in particular focus currently – SARS,” the country director explained.
He said SARS’ power to terrorise “is enabled by impunity. President Muhammadu Buhari owes Nigerians a duty to probe the operations of this unit, audit the entire police force, and make concerted efforts to ensure their reform.”
Citing the widespread anti-SARS protest nationwide, the Chairman of Amnesty International in Nigeria, Mr. Auwal Rafsanjani condemned the extra-judicial activities of SARS and Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS).
Consequently, Rafsanjani challenged the inspector-general of police to implement the report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) within three months.
He also urged the inspector-general to Identify cases of extrajudicial executions, torture and ill-treatment, which according to him, have caused death or severe injury and make them the subject of independent, prompt, impartial and thorough investigations, and officers reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility be brought to justice.
He tasked the police authority “to ensure that all police officers, including SARS officers, receive training based on human rights standards compliant practices. All police officers should receive training and re-training (where applicable) on human rights compliant practices.”
He equally asked the Presidency to reform codes and regulations concerning the functioning of the police “to bring them in line with international standards. The Disciplinary Regulations should be reformed to ensure that they comply with international human rights laws and standards.”
He recommended the need to empower the Police Service Commission (PSC) to carry out its oversight function of the police, including SARS while also calling for a serious consideration to be given to the creation of a specialised department within the PSC, for oversight of SARS.
He added that the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act 2017 “be enforced and all complaints of torture by SARS must be the subject of independent, prompt, impartial and thorough investigation, and those reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice, in line with the provisions of the Act.”