…..Orders probe SARS over alleged human rights abuses
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday sought the approval of the Senate for the confirmation of the appointment of Mr. Anthony Okechukwu Ojukwu as the Executive Secretary, of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The Senate also mandated its Ad- Hoc Committee on the review of the current Security infrastructure of the country headed by Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, to carry out a holistic investigation into all alleged issues of human rights abuses by the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).
President Buhari had in a letter dated October 27, 2017 and addressed to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said he was expecting expedite action of the upper legislative chamber on the request.
The letter reads: “In accordance with the provisions of Section 8 of the National Human Rights Commission (Amendment) Act 2010, I have the pleasure to present Mr. Anthony Okechukwu Ojukwu as Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commission by the Senate.
“While looking forward for your usual expeditious consideration, please accept, Mr. President, the assurances of my highest esteem”.
The NHRC was established in 1995 to serve as an extra-judicial mechanism aimed at creating an enabling environment for the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights.
The resolve by the Senate to probe SARS followed a point of Order by Senator Isa Misau, APC, Bauchi Central.
According to Misau, the Police Act and regulation, the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, (Force CID) is the highest investigative arm of the Nigerian police, and hence should not be seen to be entertaining abuses.
He said, “For effective and efficient administration, the department is divided into 14 sections for which the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is one of them. The squad is supposed to be a section in each state command CID with sole responsibility of handling armed robbery cases and answerable to the state commissioner for police.
“I have in the last few months received several petitions from my constituency both online and physically against SARS on violence from extra judicial killing, brutality, torture, arrest from bribe and other menacing conduct by the men of the unit.”
The lawmaker further said that findings had shown that these incidences were not isolated as many people had been sharing their experiences online across the country.
“We are a civilised society. The majority of the Nigerian Police is manned by men and women of great integrity, discipline and commitment.
“However, this unit is not one of them. It is dangerous for us to have a unit of the police force to act as if it is above the law and empowered to so behave.
“I’m aware that in 2015, the then IG of Police, Solomon Arase had due to incessant reports of abuses by the force, split SARS into two units with a view to check human rights abuses.
“This indeed was by ensuring that officers cannot make arrest and investigate the same case.”, he explained .
The Senator who noted that the abuses had continued irrespective of that, said that the Nigerian Police had a major obligation to ensure protection of human rights in all the states of the federation, adding that ,
“And therefore ought to prevent and investigate corruption misconduct by law enforcement officers and provide accountability for the exercise of their powers.
“I call on this chamber to mandate the ad hoc committee on security to investigate this issue of human rights abuses by SARS and make relevant recommendations”, he added.
In his remarks, Senate President, Bukola Saraki who noted that it was appropriate for the matter to be sent to the committee for urgent consideration.
He said, “It is clear that something wrong is going on and needs urgent attention since it is happening in all our constituents. We must be seen to be responsive to some of these needs.”
Olufemi Samuel, Abuja