The Amnesty International has accused the Nigerian government of repeated failure to tackle the alleged impunity enjoyed by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, unit of the Nigeria Police Force.
The Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, in a statement on Tuesday, lamented that the SARS brutality and corruption is becoming increasingly brazen, despite repeated pledges to reform the police squad and investigate violations committed by its officers.
The global human rights watchdog described the recent ban on routine patrols by SARS as lame, saying the ban was fourth in four years, “amid growing anger over harassment and abuse by officers”.
“This is yet another lame attempt to rein in this unit of the Nigerian police which is notorious for the widespread torture and other ill-treatment of Nigerians.
“We have seen from bitter experience that past investigations into violations were either never carried out or marred by irregularities.
“To date, the Nigerian authorities have yet to show a genuine commitment to ending the lawless activities of SARS,” said Mr Ojigho.
“Such abuses will only be prevented when SARS officers are held to account for their actions and face disciplinary or criminal punishment if they are found to be responsible for human rights violations,” Mrs Ojigho added.
According to the global organisation, the current collective outrage of Nigerians over atrocities by SARS provides another opportunity for the Nigerian authorities to end police brutality and all form of human rights violations by the police.
The Amnesty, therefore, called on the Nigerian government to seize this moment to demonstrate the country’s commitment to human rights and fulfil its obligation of holding the police to account.
“The government must empower oversight bodies, including the Police Service Commission, Committee Against Torture and the National Human Rights Commission to investigate and initiate prosecution of police officers, who are involved in the violation of human rights.
“The authorities have an obligation to protect Nigerians and bring to justice those who violate their human rights.
“Unless the authorities follow through with their promises to reform SARS and end the frequent extortion and ill-treatment of Nigerians, their empty words will be just that,” said Mrs Ojigho.