Nigerians have continued to share their harrowing encounters with the dreaded Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) despite many training on human rights for the police officers.

FSARS, a special unit under the Nigerian police, was established to take charge of specific functions about crime prevention and control as well as to secure lives and property.

But their direct contact with members of the public has led to extortion, torture and other reported human rights abuses.

The Nigerian government had, on several occasions, put together training and workshops for the officers on how to be disciplined and professional in the discharge of their duties.

Instead of the training to improve the human rights record of FSARS, the officers have continued to violate the rights of Nigerians.

The police authority had in 2018 engaged German government and trained many officers in 37 FSARS formations in the country.

As part of the measures to overhaul the unit, the Nigeria police organised a two-week training on human rights for 135 operatives drawn from 37 FSARS formations in the country.

Also, a human rights activist and Convener of Nigerians Unite Against Terror, Dr Joe Odumakin, in 2016, organised training for the police officers to be civil in dealing with the citizens.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, had in 2019 ordered a total reorganisation of the unit of the force mode of operations with an emphasis on orientation, ethics and function delineation.

As part of the reforms and new standard operating procedures and code of conduct for all FSARS personnel, human rights desk officers were mandated to receive complaints on rights abuses by operatives of the special squad.

They were also asked not to get involved in civil and commercial cases and forbidden from escorting private individuals.

From all indications, the special squad has continued to operate outside the norms as the officers still intervene in civil cases and torture their victims recklessly.    

The Nigerian authorities have failed to prosecute a single officer from the notorious activities despite anti-torture legislation passed in 2017 and evidence that its members continue to use torture and other ill-treatment to execute, punish and extract information from suspects.

Amnesty International documented at least 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment and extrajudicial execution by FSARS between January 2017 and May 2020.

The Nigerian Senate had on several occasions investigated alleged human rights abuses by the squad, but tangible actions had been taken to restrain the excesses of the FSARS except for occasional pronouncements of reforms by the government.

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