Rights Abuse: AI lists demands, insists SARS disbandment short of expectations

*Disbanding SARS must be supported by addressing the underlying issues that have allowed impunity to thrive ─Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria

*Dissolution of SARS a ‘necessary response’ by the government, says Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of House of Representatives

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

Following Mr. Mohammed Adamu, Inspector-General of Police (IGP), disbandment of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other Tactical Squads of the Force from embarking on routine patrols in Nigeria Sunday, October 11, 2020, Amnesty International (AI) Nigeria says the ban of SARS yet falls short of consumer expectations.

Osai Ojigho, the Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said the Adamu’s announcement did not disclose how the issues of human rights abuses as regards Police brutality and harassment of innocent citizens would be addressed in the country.

The Inspector-General of Police on Sunday had said that the former FSARS operatives would be deployed to state formations of the Nigeria Police.

Mr. Mohammed Adamu, Inspector-General of Police, dissolves SARS Sunday, October 11   Photo: Channels TV

However, it was learnt that Amnesty International is displeased with the development, and therefore, has listed its demands from the authorities.

Ojigho said: “Today’s (Sunday) announcement by the IGP disbanding the infamous SARS falls short of demands for accountability and justice for abuses committed by the unit and the Police in general.

“Disbanding SARS must be supported by addressing the underlying issues that allowed impunity to thrive.”

Amnesty International is seeking immediate and unhindered access to SARS and other Police detention centres by oversight bodies, such as Police Service Commission, National Human Rights Commission, as well as lawyers and human rights defenders, report said.

The Director of Amnesty International stated: “Immediate investigation and prosecution of all Police officers who have been accused of grave human rights violations, such as extrajudicial executions, torture, and other ill-treatment.

“A clear and concise timeline for the implementation of the reforms to end police atrocities is key to safeguarding trust between Nigerians and the authorities”, Ojigho added.

Meanwhile, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, has called on the Inspector-General of Police to ensure that officers of the SARS involved in human rights abuses are punished.

Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of House of Representatives

Gbajabiamila, in a statement, Lanre Lasisi, his media aide Sunday, said: “The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) must act to identify and punish those operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) involved in the most severe cases of abuse of rights, brutality, and murder of Nigerian citizens.

“These steps are necessary to assure the Nigerian people that the announced dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is sincere and well-intentioned, and not merely meant to quell the ongoing protests across the country”.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives stressed that the dissolution of SARS a “necessary response” by the government.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari and IGP Adamu on heeding the people’s demand about the unit, which had gained notoriety over the years for alleged extortion, brutality, and other forms of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings.

According to Gbajabiamila, the development and the broader ongoing reforms of the Police that will follow are a testament to the passion and resilience of a generation of Nigerians who determined not to accept or tolerate injustice in whatever form it takes.

ConsumerConnect reports that Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu dissolved the infamous Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) subunit of the Police Force at a media briefing in Lagos, on Sunday.

The IGP said: “The Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police, otherwise known as SARS, is hereby dissolved across all formations, the 36 state police command and the Federal Capital Territory where they currently exist.”

“All officers and men currently serving in the unit are to be redeployed with immediate effect.”

According to Adamu, the Police authorities will be announcing new policing arrangements to address the offences of armed robbery and other violent crimes that fall within the mandate of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad later.

Adamu’s announcement was sequel to days of sustained, widespread protests by Nigerians at home and overseas, demanding the scrapping of the unit which had gained notoriety for brutality and human rights violations.

Additional reporting by Alexander Davis

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