NIGERIA – Amnesty International has blamed the Nigerian government and the Police for the impunity perpetrated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The body said authorities failed to end the brazen brutality and corruption, despite repeated pledges to reform the police squad and investigate violations.
Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, observed that the latest ban on routine patrols is the fourth in four years.
“This is yet another lame attempt to rein in this unit of the Nigerian police which is notorious for the widespread torture and other ill-treatment of Nigerians. We have seen from bitter experience that past investigations into violations were either never carried out or marred by irregularities,” she said.
“To date, the Nigerian authorities have yet to show a genuine commitment to ending the lawless activities of SARS. Such abuses will only be prevented when SARS officers are held to account for their actions and face disciplinary or criminal punishment if they are found to be responsible for human rights violations.”
AI recalled that in August 2018, the government set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the activities of SARS and make recommendations for reform.
The report has yet to be made public almost two years after the panel submitted its findings to the government.
The body stressed that the current collective outrage of Nigerians over atrocities by SARS provides another opportunity for the Nigerian authorities to end police brutality and all forms of human rights violations by the police.
Amnesty International advised the government to demonstrate a commitment to human rights and fulfil its obligation of holding the police to account.
AI told authorities to empower oversight bodies, including the Police Service Commission, Committee Against Torture and the National Human Rights Commission, to investigate and prosecute police officers involved in the violation of human rights.
“The authorities have an obligation to protect Nigerians and bring to justice those who violate their human rights. Unless the authorities follow through with their promises to reform SARS and end the frequent extortion and ill-treatment of Nigerians, their empty words will be just that,” said Osai Ojigho.