By Ahuraka Isah, Abuja
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) yesterday submitted the report of the Presidential Investigation Panel on allegations of human rights violations against the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) for implementation.
The voluminous report among other things contain indictment of 35 policemen who served in the disbanded SARS, which the Commission expects the AGF to consider their prosecution in accordance with the law.
The report which had been submitted earlier to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police recommended the 35 SARS for outright dismissal by the Nigeria Police Force as well as prosecution by the AGF.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu who presented the report to the AGF said the list of the indicted SARS operatives, drawn from 12 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
The NHRC boss told newsmen that the affected SARS officers were found culpable of offences that ranged from alleged extra-judicial killings, unlawful arrest and detention, threat and intimidation, unfounded
allegations, seizure of properties and illegal blockage of accounts of innocent citizens.
Their indictment was contained in a voluminous report that was prepared by a three-man committee that was set-up to review and advise the federal government on implementation of recommendations of the Presidential Panel on Reform of SARS.
Meanwhile, aside from the 35 erstwhile SARS operatives that were okayed for dismissal and trial, the report also recommended reduction in the rank of 24 others for their alleged involvement in gross violation
of human rights.
It further recommended the payment of compensation ranging from N500, 000 to N20million, to some of the identified victims, as well as to families of deceased victims.
While some of the indicted SARS operatives were directed to personally pay the compensation, the Nigeria Police was also found liable and asked to pay some of the victims.
More so, the NPF was directed to by way of Newspaper publications, tender apology to some of the victims.
Specifically, the document covered reported infractions of SARS operatives in Lagos, Imo, Akwa-Ibom, Benue, Enugu, FCT, Gombe, Kaduna, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun and Rivers State.
Meanwhile, receiving the report, the AGF, said the Federal Government would appraise it holistically with a view to ensuring that justice is done to all the parties involved.
Malami said: “Our responsibility as a government is to establish and entrench a constitutional program to take care of the collective interest that will incorporate the interest of the victim of crime, the interest of the nation and the interest of the individual involved.
“This government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has indeed demonstrated effective consciousness of these factors with particular reference to perhaps the Police.
“The government has taken steps, inclusive of having in place the Police Act 2020, which is indeed a piece of legislation established with a view to ensuring that necessary reforms are brought into then operations of the Police. Far-reaching indeed, with a wider approach.
“Approach that has to do with the welfare of police officers and the welfare of the society as it relates to having in place community policing and indeed having necessary checks and discipline that will ensure that the Police as an institution and not necessarily a unit of it is brought inline with the best practices for the purpose of the
discharge of their responsibilities.”