President Muhamadu Buhari has directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to work with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to produce modalities for the implementation of recommendations of the commission’s panel among which is the establishment of state and local government police.
The Presidential Panel on Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Reform headed by Tony Ojukwu, which was constituted as a result of public outcry and various media reports on allegations of human rights violations perpetrated by officers and men of the squad, submitted its report to the President on Monday at the presidential villa, Abuja.
Buhari has directed that the implementation of the report be effected within three months.
The panel also recommended 37 Police officers for dismissal from the force, 24 for prosecution while it directed the IGP to unravel the identity of 22 officers involved in the violation of the human rights of innocent citizens.
It also directed the police to pay compensation for various sums in 45 complaints and tender public apologies in five complaints, noting that the police must obey court orders in five matters.
The panel also directed the police to immediately arrest and prosecute two retired senior Police officers found to have violated the rights of citizens (one for extra-judicial killing and the other for an illegal takeover of the property of a suspect).
The Panel disclosed that it recovered two vehicles illegally auctioned by SARS officers and returned them to their owners
Other significant recommendations made by the panel after considering 113 cases of human rights complaints from around the country and 22 memoranda on how to improve the police force, are significant improvement in the funding, kitting and facilities of the Nigeria Police Force, strengthening Information and Communication Technology of the Force; Establishment of State and local government Police; Institutionalizing a Special Investigation Panel to annually hear and determine complaints on alleged human rights violations against operations of the Nigeria Police Force;
and strengthening the Police Rapid Response Complaints Unit of the Nigeria Police and other internal complaints mechanisms of the Force to make them more responsive.
The panel similarly recommended the renaming the SARS to Anti-Robbery Section (ARS) which was its original name and to make the section operate under the intelligence arm of the Police from the divisional, area command, state command, zonal command up to the Force Headquarters level.