Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, has called on the government to take active steps to ensure that personnel of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), found culpable of assaulting Nigerians, are brought to book.
Reacting to the directive by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on the immediate overhauling of SARS, Ojigho asserted that the reform of the department was long overdue.
She said: “The reform ordered by the Acting President must translate into ending the serious human rights violations, such as torture and extrajudicial executions that SARS officers have been committing for years across Nigeria. That includes bringing to justice SARS officers found to have committed such atrocities.
“There is much compelling public evidence of human rights violations committed by SARS, some of it directly documented by Amnesty International, and this should now be used to aid an effective investigation into the unit’s crimes."
Commending the Federal Government for taking the decisive step to reform the security unit, she called on the government to ensure that protection of Nigerians is a priority, stating that: “This is an overdue, yet hugely important move by Acting President Osinbajo. The growing outcry over the brutality of Nigeria’s notorious SARS Police unit has finally got the attention of the country’s authorities.
“While this is positive news, it is crucial that any overhaul of SARS is far-reaching and immediately effective. Restructuring SARS is not enough unless the government takes concrete steps to protect Nigerians.”
Ojigho also urged the special panel convened to investigate SARS to be independent and impartial, as well as ensure that victims are given time and protection to present their cases and evidence.
Amnesty International had, in September 2016, compiled a report highlighting gross violations by SARS, including torture and other forms of ill-treatment.