Monday, October 5, 2020 11:26 pm
When the forceful axe of Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, swirled, it landed on the Federal Anti-robbery Squad (FSARS) and other Special Tactical Units of the Police. This made everyone heave a sigh of relief because of the operatives’ excesses which, apart from attracting the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, necessitated a report by Amnesty International.
Moreover, the youths were preponderantly the victims of the such atrocities. It is for this reason that Youth Minister, Mr Sunday Dare, visited the IGP and urged strict enforcement of the recent ban, orders. In other words, towards stemming the incessant attacks, harassments, arrests and killings of Nigeria youths indiscriminately by the FSARS, the Minister paid a visit to the Police IG, Adamu in his office on Monday to solicit further areas of mutual cooperation.
While thanking the police Force for its response to the series of attacks on the youths over the weekend, the Minister demanded strict enforcement of the recent bans and pronouncements against SARS and similar squads. “We believe you are committed to professionalism, hence we expect that you will ensure discipline and precision are brought into the operations of the Poilce. The youth of this country are not all criminals. The profiling Should stop. We do not condone criminality. Our youth must be law abiding and as such should be protected. We also know that not all members of the police Force are bad. The police have a statutory responsibility to protect lives and property”.
The IGP thanked the Minister for the visit assuring that this was a step in the partnership between the Police and the youths in the face of police harassment .” SARS activities are regulated since it was decentralised to check their mode of operations. But from what we are seeing, we need to readress their operations. The Police Act of 2020 has laid out alot of reforms. Any officer that goes contrary to the law would not go Scot free. We have identified some of these unruly officers and have arrested some in Rivers and Delta States who are facing disciplinary action”
Adamu further said ” We need to partner with the civil society organisations so that the public will know what we are doing. When there are issues, the public should be able to alert us. The public must be patient with us . All the measures must be followed to the letter. The reforms continues”, he assured.
This was further reaffirmed in a press statement that was sent to TheNEWS from the IGP’s office, stating that he had reaffirmed his commitment to the ongoing reforms in the Nigeria Police Force especially as it concerns the activities of the Federal Anti-robbery Squad (FSARS) and other Special Tactical Units of the Force.
The press statement has it further: “The IGP called on the citizens to exercise patience as the reforms in FSARS et.al are still in progress, noting that all the already announced measures aimed at checkmating a future occurrence of extra-judicial activities by some personnel of FSARS and other Tactical Units of the Force will be followed to the latter. He reiterates that some of the officers who have been found to be unruly and unprofessional in their dealings with the citizens, particularly the youth, have been arrested and are already facing disciplinary actions.
In his remarks, the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare commended the IGP for his prompt response in tackling the issues and called for stronger collaboration and mutual understanding between the Police and the youth. He also called for regular town hall meetings at various State Commands which will involve the Police Spokespersons, Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and other critical stakeholders to strengthen the synergy between the police and the citizens, especially the youth.
The IGP, while concurring with the Hon. Minister on the necessity for Town Hall meetings, a practice which he identified as a feature of community policing, reaffirmed the readiness of the Police, under his watch, to work with relevant stakeholders towards enhancing respect for the rights of the citizens and better bonding between the Police and the community at all times.”
As we published on this platform yesterday, below are excesses of TSARS operatives , according to Amnesty International
In a new report, Time to End Impunity, Amnesty International in June 2020, documented at least 82 cases of torture, ill treatment and extra-judicial execution by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020. The victims of the police unit, set up to fight violent crimes, are predominantly male between the ages of 18 and 35, from low-income backgrounds and vulnerable groups.
“The complete failure of Nigerian authorities to bring an end to the gross human rights violations perpetuated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad or to bring any SARS officer to justice is shocking and unacceptable. Nigerians are outraged by the systemic human rights violations perpetrated by the SARS with impunity,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“The systemic use of torture and other ill treatment by SARS officers for police investigations and the continued existence of torture chambers within the Nigerian Police Force points to an absolute disregard for international human rights laws and standards.”
Amnesty International’s investigation “reveals a disturbing pattern of abuse of detainees in SARS custody despite the 2017 Anti-Torture Act. In many cases, Amnesty International bore witness to the scars, bruises, and dried blood on victims’ bodies. Many of them were subjected to beatings with sticks and machetes and denied medical care.”
Amnesty International wrote further:
“In March 2017, 23-year-old Miracle was arrested and detained by SARS officers in Neni, Anambra State, southeast Nigeria, accused of the theft of a laptop. He was tortured and given hardly any food during the 40 days he was in detention before he was charged and brought before a court.
In October 2018, 24-year-old Sunday Bang, an amateur boxer was arrested in his home in Abuja, by SARS officers and accused of robbery. He was held in detention for 5 weeks without access to family, lawyers or medical care – and was not charged in court. While in SARS detention, he suffered bone fractures and other injuries due to torture and other ill treatment.
From extortion to stealing money and property
Across Nigeria, SARS officers have turned their duty to protect Nigerians into an opportunity for extortion and stealing money, property and other valuables belonging to suspects and their families. Since 2016, Amnesty International has documented 15 cases where SARS officers arbitrarily confiscated suspects’ property.
Young people between the ages of 17 and 30 are most at risk of arrest, torture or extortion by SARS. They are often accused of being internet fraudsters and/or armed robbers. Young men with dreadlocks, ripped jeans, tattoos, flashy cars or expensive gadgets are frequently targeted by SARS.”