…NHRC to commence public hearing on SARS activities
By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) said the Federal Government will ensure that acts of torture are identified and penalised, wherever and whenever they occur in the country.
Malami, who was represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation (SGF) and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Mr Dayo Apata, at an event to commemorates the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture in Abuja, said, violations of human rights are unacceptable for whatever reasons in Nigeria.
“Torture in particular is a clear assault on the inherent dignity and fundamental freedoms of the human person. It is wicked, dehumanising and has been criminalised in Nigeria with the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act 2017, signed into law same year by President Muhammadu Buhari”.
He said the Act is in furtherance of the present administration ‘s commitment to the promotion and protection of the Fundamental Human Rights of all Nigerians as enshrined in the constitution as Nigeria is a state party to a range of international and regional human rights instruments expressly prohibiting torture and ill-treatment.
To achieve the intent and purpose of the Act, he said the current efforts aimed at reforming the institutional and legal framework of the criminal justice system would be intensified.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Barrister Tony Ojukwu, disclosed that the commission concluded plans to commence public hearing on the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad ( SARS) in the South-South and South-East geo-political zones of the country.
The activities of SARS in recent times has generated controversies and public outcry which has necessitated the Commission’s intervention like fact finding visits to SARS detention facilities across the country.
He said, “This commenced with the FCT Police Command in December 2017 and will be replicated in other parts of the country, after which appropriate actions will be taken based on findings.”
He urged the general public and the police authorities to assist the Commission and cooperate to curb the practice of torture by SARS and other security agencies to reduce the incidence of torture in the polity.
Ojukwu said the NHRC has the mandate to investigate allegations against all human rights violations as well as seek appropriate redress for victims.
In his speech, the Chairman of the National Committee Against Torture, Dr. Samson Sani Ameh (SAN) said his committee, which was inaugurated on September 28, 2009 had visited all places of detention in the country to examine allegations of torture therein.
According to Ameh, his committee receives and considers communications on torture from individual Civil Society Organizations and government institutions and added that the committee has tried as much as possible to cope with its responsibilities under its mandate.