The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has commenced public sitting of the Presidential Investigative Panel on the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force for the North-central Geo-political Zone, yesterday, at the FCT High Court Premises, Abuja.
In his welcome address, the executive secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, said the essence of the public sitting is to increase access of Nigerians to the services of the commission and to seek for accountability where there is evidence to indicate that any officer or officials of SARS have been involved in acts amounting to human rights violation in the course of carrying out their law enforcement duties.
Ojukwu who said the decision to constitute the investigative panel was as a result of persistent public outcry, complaints and numerous reports in the electronic, print and social media alleging gross violations of human rights of Nigerians by the men and officers of SARS, made the then Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to request the NHRC to constitute this panel for purposes of hearing and investigating the complaints against SARS and to make recommendations to government on how SARS can be reformed.
The NHRC boss who assured Nigerians that his commission will adhere to the principles of fair hearing in discharging its functions also revealed the specific terms of reference of the panel as follows :
“ To investigate the veracity of allegations of human rights abuses and abuses of power made against SARS within the last two years; to independently review and render advice on any value added by SARS from a public safety and security perspective and to make recommendations to government on the steps that may be taken to reform or restructure SARS; Measures to be taken in respect of operatives of SARS, if any, found in violation of human rights of citizens, remedial steps that may enhance the professional conduct of SARS operatives and other members of the Nigeria Police as well as any other recommendations that may be considered appropriate.”