Extra-judicial killings:: Rights group demands implementation of SARS reforms

By Stanley Onyekwere

A civil society organisation, Human Rights Society for All, has called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhamed Abubakar to as a matter of urgency implement the recommendations of the Presidential Panel on the reorganization of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) arm of the Nigeria Police Force.
This call came in the wake of growing allegations of incessant extra-judicial killings of innocent Nigerians by men of the Nigeria Police force.
The Human Rights group in a statement issued yesterday by its President, Moses Adamu, urged the IGP to swiftly see to the full implementation of the Presidential Panel on the reformation of SARS, in a bid to see to the sustenance of peace and tranquillity in the country.
The statement reads: “The Human Rights Society for All is appalled with the brazen disregard for the rights of innocent Nigerians who go about their normal businesses by policemen who continually harass them through acts of extortion and intimidation.
“This much was the case that eventually led to the nationwide protest calling for an end to the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the country.
“The recent event that trailed the death of Kolade Johnson following wounds sustained from bullets fired by police officers during a raid in his neighbourhood in Lagos is just an example of how brutal and insensitive the operatives of SARS have been.
“The Human Rights Society for All wishes to states that over the years, SARS has earned a notorious reputation of a brutal agency following cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, abuse of detainees, and extortion of suspects.
“The activities of the Nigeria Police have also raised a huge question mark in the country in recent times. Besides arresting indiscriminately, frequently, Police 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.”
It continued: “Worse still, they do not let detainees see any relatives or even their lawyers. Also, regardless of the provision of a free bail policy by the Nigerian Police rarely release suspects for free but extort them and their relatives.
“This is the same case for countless ordinary Nigerians attempting to make ends meet as taxi drivers, market traders, and shopkeepers are accosted daily by armed police officers who demand bribes and commit human rights abuses against them. Those who fail to pay are frequently threatened with arrest and physical harm.
“Meanwhile, victims of crime are obliged to pay the police from the moment they enter a police station to file a complaint until the day their case is brought before a court. In the shadows, high-level police officials embezzle staggering sums of public funds meant to cover basic police operations.””

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