The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu, Esq. has commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu for banning the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other Tactical Squads from embarking on routine searching of laptops and phones vehicle occupants etc. saying his order is in line with the Commission’s recommendations following its report on the Presidential Investigation Panel on allegations of human rights violations against SARS.
Ojukwu made the remarks while reacting to the recent ban of SARS and other special teams of the Nigerian Police from routine patrol duties saying this is not the first time such a proclamation is made by the Police hierarchy and that compliance to such orders has remained a problem.
“It is hoped that this time the directive which is expected to preserve and protect the rights to privacy and dignity of the human person from atrocious acts of some bad eggs in the Nigeria Police will be enforced to the fullest”, Ojukwu added.
The Chief Human Rights Officer in Nigeria lamented that reported cases of human rights violations against the Police is assuming an alarming proportion and must be curtailed so as to rekindle people’s confidence in the ability of the Police to maintain peace and orderliness in the society, as well as protect their lives and property.
The NHRC Chief Executive Officer recalled that in an effort to mitigate such violations, the Vice President in 2018 gave a directive for the setting up of a Special Investigation Panel to look into the activities of the SARS and make recommendations for its reform.
The Executive Secretary restated the shocking revelations that came out during the panel sitting’s which report already submitted to government, contained far-reaching recommendations including the establishment of state and local government Police structure and banning FSARS from embarking on routine patrol, stop and search duties etc.
He expressed optimism that the recent ban of SARS and other similar Police teams from routine operations will afford the force the opportunity to rejig its operations and refocus it in line with human rights best practices. He regretted that the manner in which some of the officials of SARS operate is inimical to the image of the Police and that of the country in general. This he observed is due to the fact that such officials often operate contrary to the rules of engagement and standard of procedures of the force, adding that most times they do not wear Police uniforms, making it difficult for one to identify them as Policemen.
According to him, the Commission has continued to record cases of extra-judicial killings, series of extortion, harassment, and intimidation of innocent citizens by FSARS without much being done to change the status quo, thereby tarnishing the image of the country among the global community.
The NHRC Boss emphasised that accountability is key in dealing with such cases as nobody should be above the law. He expressed the readiness of the Commission to continue to work with the police especially in the area of training and retraining all FSARS officers to enable them mainstream human rights into their operations and bequeath a Police force that will be noted for respect and protection of lives and property of Nigerians.
FATIMAH AGWAI MOHAMMED
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, PUBLIC AFFAIRS