Senate to investigate allegations of brutality against SARS

Senate President, Bukola Saraki
Senate President, Bukola Saraki

Senate has mandated an Ad hoc Committee on Review of National Security Infrastructure to investigate human rights abuses by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force.

The committee was also mandated to make relevant recommendations and revert to the Senate.

The chamber’s resolution was sequel to a point of order by Senator Isa Misau. Misau noted that, in line with the Police Act and Regulation, the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, (Force CID) is the highest investigative arm of the NPF.

“For effective and efficient administration, the department is divided into 14 sections for which the SARS is one of them. The squad is supposed to be a section in each state CID, with sole responsibility of handling armed robbery cases and answerable to the state Commissioner for police.

“In the last few months, I have received several petitions from my constituents against SARS and it varied from extra-judicial killings, brutality and torture. The incidences are not isolated as many people have been sharing their experiences.

“Today, they are being controlled in the operation, the control is from the Force headquarters, which is not supposed to be. It is supposed to be headed by a commissioner of police, in the force CID.”

Misau also alleged that in some cases, SARS is deployed to serve other than their terms of engagement.

“SARS is used to intimidate opponents and sometimes politicians. Sometimes, you find that the federal SARS goes to a state and arrests people, without making reference to the commissioner of police. They (would) bring them to Abuja and detain them.

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“Mr. President (referring to Senate President, Bukola Saraki), we have to do something about SARS, it shouldn’t be under the Operations Department, it is supposed to be under Investigation.”

The lawmaker further stated that findings showed that the incidences were not isolated, as many people had been sharing their experiences online.

“I am aware that in 2015, then Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, had, due to incessant reports of abuses by the Force, split SARS into two units; with a view to check human rights abuses. This, indeed, was to ensure that officers cannot arrest and investigate the same case.”

Misau, however, said the abuses continued, irrespective of the minor reforms by Arase.

“Senate ought to prevent and investigate corruption or misconduct by law enforcement officers and provide accountability for the exercise of their powers.

“I call on this chamber to mandate the ad hoc committee to investigate this issue of human rights abuses by SARS and make relevant recommendations,” he noted.

In his remarks, Saraki said it was appropriate for the matter to be sent to the committee for consideration.

“It is clear that something wrong is going on and needs urgent attention. It is happening in all our constituencies. We must be seen to be responsive to some of these needs,” Saraki said.

On Tuesday, police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, alleged “mischievous” politicians were behind the #EndSARS campaign.

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