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We’ll Investigate Human Rights Violations by SARS Operatives – NHRC

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By Oluwakemi Ishola 

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says it will set up an independent investigation panel to probe human rights violations by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and other segments of the Nigerian Police within the next one week.

The decision was taken on 12th October 2020 at a Multi-Stakeholders’ Forum (MSF) in Abuja organised by the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu Esq. and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu as a follow-up to the recent disbandment of SARS by the IGP.

Mr Ojukwu said that “An open call for Memoranda from members of the public whose rights have been violated by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Police will be released by the Commission within a week.

The NHRC Chief Executive Officer disclosed that the Forum “recommends the psychological evaluation, training and retraining of disbanded SARS officials prior to re-deployment.

There was also an agreement by the forum that the Inspector General of Police should order all State Police Commands to halt the use of force against protesters and to release arrested protesters and citizens unconditionally.

The Forum, according to him, resolved to set up the following Technical Committees, to be supported by the NHRC and other Civil Society Organisations to design the roadmap and a work plan for the implementation of the White Paper of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of SARS;

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– Training, Capacity and Re-Orientation

– Logistics: Infrastructure, Communications and Technology

– Arrest, Detention and Investigations

– Regulations, Oversight and Accountability

– Finance and Partnerships

The Forum noted that the proposed reforms should be anchored under the basis of the White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which was jointly authored by the National Human Rights Commission, the Federal Ministry of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Force.

The reform proposals for the Nigerian Police Force will be based on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and existing legislations such as the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act, 2019, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and the Anti-Torture Act, 2017, The National Human Rights Commission Act, 2010 amongst others.

The forum further affirmed that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement which bothers on giving justice to victims of SARS brutality and improved working conditions for police personnel are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the Government.

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