By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday mandated Committees on Police Affairs, Justice, Human Rights to investigate the recent action by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS operatives that led to the death of Tiyamiyu Kazeem.
The House also asked the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu to re-examine the objectives behind the establishment of the tactical squads, return them back to their original concept, streamline their scope of operations and restrict their interference with civil and financial crimes.
It’s equally urged the Federal Government, through the National Human Rights Commission and alongside the committee on Police Affairs to pay unannounced regular oversight visits to all detention facilities to affirm that no human rights are being violated.
The decision of the House followed a motion titled “Need to Re-Assess and Re-Evaluate the Tactical Squads of the Nigeria Police Force” by Hon. Adewunmi Oriyomi Onanuga, Urging the Nigeria Police Force to establish a Special Bureau Unit that monitors officers including Tactical Squads, arrest and charge erring ones.
Onanuga had while moving the motion earlier noted the brutality, overbearing intimidation, recklessness and lack of professionalism on the part of the tactical squads, particularly the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, otherwise known as SARS, and the Zonal Intervention Squad (ZIS) of the Nigeria Police Force.
She said that cases of indiscriminate arrest, illegal detention and torture to extort money from both young and old members of the public were rife with operatives of SARS and ZIS.
The lawmaker recalls the #ENDSARS campaign, saying it was the anthem on the streets of many states of the federation and different platforms on Social Media, which, she said, led to the setting up of a panel headed by the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr Anthony Ojukwu, to investigate and submit reports on the allegations of misconduct against SARS.
She said: “The House recalls that the panel came up with recommendations to the President which included among other things, the dismissal of 37 officers, prosecution of 24 officers, some compensations to be paid, the renaming of SARS and the creation of State and Local Government Police in the country;
“Aware that in reacting to the recommendations of the panel, the Inspector General of Police released a statement saying that SARS has been reformed and itemized 6 new terms and conditions of the operations of SARS;
“Worried that the recent death of this young and vibrant man, Tiyamiyu Kazeem has shown however, that even the Nigeria Police Force cannot bring its officers to abide by the rules of engagement; as their action was in clear contrast with the terms and conditions of the alleged Reform SARS, and therefore, actions more effective and lasting needs to be taken;
“Also worried that a prolonged negligence of the issue may result into a crisis between the police and the citizens as evident after the death of Kazeem, when the protector becomes the harm, the protected will look for ways to defend and shield himself from any harm;
“Also notes the swift and encouraging response of the IGP in disbanding all SARS satellite offices across Nigeria and the assigning DIG, Ogunyanwo to Ogun State from Abuja;
“Further aware of the restiveness among the youths, which is being suppressed by the Royal fathers and elders of the community with the assurance that the matter will not be swept under the carpet and that justice will be served;
“Recognises that the efforts of SARS at combating crime, especially armed robbery & kidnappings cannot go unnoticed, but for the unprofessional and overambitious conduct of SARS which defeats the whole objective and pales all seemingly achieved gains into nothing when promising lives are cut short”.
Adopting the motion, the House urged the Federal Government to look into the recommendations of the Tony Ojukwu led panel with a view to adopting it.
It also asked the government to strengthen the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) department of the Police, establish State and Local Government police, institutionalize a Special Investigation Panel (SIP) to annually hear and determine complaints of alleged human rights violations against the Nigeria Police Force. The Committees were given 6 weeks for its assignment.