The continuous brutality of SARS on innocent Nigerian citizens has reached an alarming rate and a call for concern, writes Maureen Okpe of Global Sentinel. The latest in the series of ugly events and catalogues of human rights violations allegedly committed by SARS is how they turned the life of a young man, Mr. Sadiq Ibrahim Abubakar Yaro, simply known as ‘Sadiq’ and that of his loved ones upside down.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) an arm of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), has over the years earned a notorious reputation of being a brutal agency following cases of torture, extrajudicial killings, ill-treatment of detainees, harassment and extortion of supposed suspects.
Besides arresting indiscriminately, oftentimes, SARS officers detain suspects for several weeks without arraigning them in court, which is against the 48 hours detainment period allowed and stipulated by the constitution. Worse still, they do not allow detainees to see any relatives or even their lawyers. And regardless of the provision of a free bail policy by the NPF, SARS barely release suspects for free but extort them and their relatives.
Also, it is common knowledge that their modus operandi includes going to any length to make suspects confess to crimes they have not committed. Videos and pictures online have continue to call them out on so many occasions showing that alleged SARS atrocities range from severe beating, hanging, starvation, shooting in the leg, mock executions and threats of execution.
One of these cases is the recent attack on young Sadiq at his residence in Gwarimpa, Abuja. The young man who was making his preparation to pray according to the Muslim rites was suddenly shot at and manhandled by the officers of SARS.
According to his cousin, Ms. Fatima Babashehu Liman, who had narrated his ordeal via Facebook, explained that the officer had forcibly gained entrance to the building and forced their way into the victim’s house under the guise of looking for robbers who eluded them. The boy, innocently at home due to the lockdown, was shot in the process.
Below is Fatima’s explanations on the event that led to the shooting and later arresting of her cousin Sadiq;
“With deep sorrowful broken heart I write dis painful story of what happened to my cousin today, today as a Nigerian citizen, I have seen the highest order of abuse of office by the SARS officers and cruelty, at about 1pm SARS officers jumped the fence and entered my aunt’s house in Gwarimpa, Abuja, and started shooting, Sadiq was performing ablution for Zur rayers, on sighting one of the officers shooting he got scared and he thought they were armed robbers.
“Out of fear he jumped in to their neighbour’s house, one of the officers shot him on the hand, Sadiq was bleeding, he handcuffed Sadiq and one of the neighbour’s son and took them in to their vehicle.
“Meanwhile the remaining officers broke the doors in to the house, brought out the remaining boys and her husband and started beating them up and took them away and after some minutes some of the officers came back to the house and packed the bullets that were on the floor in an attempt to hide evidence.
“After making several phone calls they were said to be taken to the SARS office at Guzape with a lot of cooked up stories.
“On reaching there, they took us to see one of the heads of the office, he narrated the story that, the officers were chasing a kidnapper demanding a ransom and the kidnapper jumped in to my aunt’s house and that they didn’t shoot any body, that Sadiq got injured by a barb wire while trying to escape and that Sadiq is the kidnapper.
“After narrating our own side of the story the officer realised they were some hidden facts.
“After clear listening to his step mum, the officer asked them to release every body, I demanded they take Sadiq to the hospital and get him treated and they must foot the bills.
“The commander and his deputy threatened to arrest me for saying that, and he ordered everyone to be rearrested that he is not releasing anybody.
“After going back and forth I insisted they give us Sadiq for treatment and seeing is a gun shot injury non of the hospital’s will accept us without a police officer attached to us.
“I demanded that one of the police officer accompanies us to the hospital, they took Sadiq in to their Hilux vehicle, drove him to National Hospital and left.
“The Doctors told them to wait behind and submit their statement, they refused and left us there, when the bandage on Sadiqi’s hand was removed, it was a gun shot injury.
“The bullet has damaged his Radius and Ulna bone, and also damaged the whole tendons on the wrist.
“We are demanding justice for Sadiq and the entire Family if there is any justice remaining in Nigeria, if not we have raised our hands and prayed to Allah in this Holy month for divine intervention,
“Today as a Nigerian Citizen our government has failed us…”
“SARS officers are very cruel and in human, the officer that shot Sadiq was looking like a hoodlum, with is tattered hair style and chains hanging around his neck, if any one can help us raise the alarm until it reaches the ears that needs to hear and Justice is given to Sadiq it will be appreciated, please help us share until it reaches the ears that need to hear…,” she said.
Speaking on the issue, a media personality who is close to the family, Ms. Safiya Ibrahim, noted that what as particularly worrisome is the level of impunity with which the SARS personnel brutalised innocent Nigerians without fear of any consequence.
Ibrahim further informed Global Sentinel that the SARS team have not even made any efforts to bring the alleged culprits to book and had only come to “offer compensation”, noting that what the family deserves more than any other thing for closure is justice.
Also expressing disappointment at the extrajudicial actions of SARS, Mr. Kamri Apollo of WEFM said: “SARS apparently forced their way into the victim’s house under the guise of looking for robbers who eluded them. The boy, innocently at home as per lockdown, was shot in the process.
“This is what happens when you give an unprincipled, unenlightened and under-educated person a little bit of authority. They abuse it. I have always maintained that choice, in governance, is for responsible and intellectually advanced societies. This is what happens when you make someone a security guard. Their first instinct is to impose themselves on people who don’t have they same powers/authority that they have.”
Meanwhile, neither SARS Unit nor the Nigerian Police Force is yet to make any official statement and respond appropriately to inquiries on the issue.