Gombe Gov Inaugurates Commission of Inquiry on Police Brutality

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Segun Awofadeji in Gombe

Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, has inaugurated an 11-member Commission of Inquiry to investigate allegations of human rights violations by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other Nigerian Police units or security agencies in the state.

The commission, which draws its membership from Human Rights Commission of Nigeria (HRCN), Youth Council of Nigeria (YCN), legal practitioners, civil society organisations and students’ union, has a retired High Court Judge, Justice Sa’ad Mohammed, as its chairman.

In his speech during the inauguration ceremony at the Government House in Gombe yesterday, the governor said the setting up of the commission was in exercise of the powers conferred on him by section 2 of the Commission of Inquiry law Cap 33 laws of Bauchi State 1991, which is applicable to Gombe State.

He said events of the past few weeks have drawn considerable attention to the issues of human rights and responsive civil policing in Nigeria, noting that what began as a genuine protest against human rights abuses and alleged police brutality was hijacked by criminal elements who sought to exploit the grievances of the youths.

Yahaya said in spite of the challenges facing the Nigerian Police, the organisation has been playing an important role in preserving law and order with its officers and men gaining commendation from within and outside the country.

The governor said: “The SARS, which was established by the Nigerian Police Force in order to arrest the raising cases of armed robbery and criminality across the country, did well in the discharge of its responsibilities, but that cases of human rights abuses, extortion and extra judicial actions perpetrated by some personnel of SARS have put a huge dent on the reputation of the Nigerian Police.”

He, however, observed that in spite of those challenges, Nigerians must not fall into the temptation of throwing the baby away with the bathwater.

According to the governor, “The decision by the federal government to disband the SARS is a welcome development; it is a demonstration of our commitment to a total reform of the Nigerian Police Force under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“It is necessary for the police to be manned by men and women of strong moral character, integrity and patriotism,” adding that “the abuse of human rights and extra judicial actions has no place in a genuine democracy.”

Yahaya said while setting up the Commission of Inquiry that the government was careful in the choice of its membership to include men and women of proven integrity who represent various interest groups in the state.

He called on the citizens of the state, whose rights were violated by men of the disbanded SARS, other police units and other security agencies to approach the panel with a view to seeking justice.