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SARS Overhaul: CDHR says reform not enough, demands justice for victms

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Commends presidency, IGP for swift actions


Godsgift Onyedinefu 


The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has called on the Federal Government to take the further steps to ensure justice by insisting on the punishment of all errant Officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police who have violated and abused the rights of citizens, especially those Officers who engaged in extrajudicial murder.

CDHR in a statement issued on Wednesday   by the National President, Comrade  Malachy Ugwummadu, called for justice to the victims of SARS brutality and punishment for guilty personnel.

Ugwummadu lauded the Presidential Order by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on the immediate overhaul of the SARS in response to complaints and allegations on human rights violations against some personnel of the notorious Police Squad from citizens in some parts of the country.

He also extolled the Federal Government and the Inspector General of Police for responding to the complaints of citizens to address the excessive brutality, recklessness, unprofessionalism and highhandedness of the dreaded Squad.

According to him, the action of the Presidency to heed to the cries and demands of citizens, through CDHR, other Human Rights Organisations and especially the National Human Rights Commission was a commendable gesture.

Ugwummadu also acknowledged that the Presidential Order has persuaded the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, to announce strategic reforms in the structure and operations of the Squad, but stressed that “a lot more needs to be done to ensure justice to the numerous victims of the excesses of SARS”.

He asserted that the adoption of name as Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), the appointment of a Commissioner of Police as the overall head of the Squad nationwide, to operate under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters, Abuja, and report to the IGP through the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations, cannot assuage the pain of bereavement, injuries, injustice and psychological torture inflicted on citizens, especially innocent Nigerians.

He noted that there is the obvious need for the Attorney General to take the next step to ensure diligent prosecution of all reported cases of errant Officers of the Squad.

The CDHR, however commened the Police boss, Idris, for his promptness, especially for considering and heeding to the earlier call by the Group that the operations of the Squad should be restricted to matters of Armed Robbery and related cases, including kidnapping, but not to perform routine stop and search of mostly innocent citizens, even when there were no reasonable justification.

“Applying intelligence to prevention, detection and apprehension of offenders with strict observance of the rule of law and respect for human rights of all persons should be the focus of the Squad. CDHR reiterated its demand that the proposed Human Rights Desk Officers should receive special training on Human Rights protection, else such Officers should be drawn from renowned Human Rights Organisations.

“To this end, CDHR called on the Police to ensure effective implementation of the reform,” the statement read.

The Group also agreed with the Police on the need to conduct Medical/Psychological evaluation of all personnel of the Squad, the need to devise a clear and uniform mode of identity of personnel throughout the Country, need to be humane, transparent, and to cooperate and work cordially with Human Rights Groups, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), relevant NGOs and the National Human Right Commission on the investigation of alleged unlawful activities of FSARS and diligent prosecution of errant Officers to serve as deterrence to other Officers.

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