3rd June, 2019
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja directed the Inspector General of Police, Ministry of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to work out modalities for the implementation of the report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), within three months.
The President gave the directive while receiving the 2804 page-report from the Panel headed by Tony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary, NHRC, at the State House.
The report of the Panel, which came in four Volumes, among other things recommended the dismissal of 37 police officers from the force and the prosecution of 24 officers.
The Panel also directed the IGP to unravel the identity of 22 officers involved in the violation of human rights of innocent citizens while the police was directed to pay compensation of various sums in 45 complaints and tender public apologies in five complaints, and to obey court orders in 5 matters.
The Panel recommended the establishment of State and local government police and the renaming of SARS to Anti-Robbery Section (ARS) which was its original name and to make the section operate under the intelligence arm of the Police.
Responding, President Buhari said:
‘‘I am very happy with the work of the Panel and thank the Panel members for working hard towards the realization of the Presidential Directive.
‘‘I believe that the Report of the Panel and recommendations contained therein would go a long way in redressing the grievances of the complainants, ensure accountability on the part of the Police Officers in discharging their responsibilities and facilitate the various Police reforms being introduced by this administration.
‘‘I want to assure you and all Nigerians that this Administration will continue to fulfil its obligations of promoting and protecting human rights of Nigerians, and will give the National Human Rights Commission all the support required to ensure full implementation of the recommendations contained in its Report.
‘‘In addition, we will strengthen the operations of the Commission to enhance its effectiveness and capability to resolve cases of human rights violations.
‘‘This administration is conscious of the role the Commission plays in ensuring security and stability in the nation through the resolution of complaints of human rights violations, which if neglected, could result into major security challenges.
‘‘As you are aware, I have recently approved the reconstitution of the Governing Council of the Commission. The names of the Council members will be submitted to the National Assembly for confirmation before the inauguration of the Council in line with NHRC Act, 1995 (as amended).
‘‘I want to thank the Panel once more, and hereby direct that since the recommendations of the Commission that constituted the Panel are enforceable as decisions of the Court, that the Inspector General of Police and the Solicitor General of the Federation/Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice meet with the Commission to work out the modalities for the implementation of the Report within 3 months from today’’
President Buhari also approved the dismissal of 37 police officers as recommended by the National Human Rights Commission Presidential Special Panel on SARS Reforms.
These decisions were contained in a statement by the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission and Chairman Presidential Panel on SARS Reform, Anthony Ojukwu, during the submission of report of the Presidential Panel on the reform of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), of the Nigeria Police, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Ojukwu said the panel received 113 complaints on alleged human rights violations from across the country and 22 memoranda on suggestions on how to reform and restructure SARS and the Nigeria Police in general.
“At the end of its public hearing and having listened to complaints as well as defendants and their counsel, the Panel recommended thirty seven (37) Police ofﬁcers for dismissal from the force. Twenty four (24) were recommended for prosecution.
“The panel also directed the Inspector General of Police to unravel the identity of twenty two (22) ofﬁcers involved in the violation of the human rights of innocent Citizens.
“The police was directed to pay compensation of various sums in forty—ﬁve (45) complaints and tender public apologies in ﬁve (5) complaints and directed to obey court orders in ﬁve (5) matters.
“The Police was directed to immediately arrest and prosecute two (2) retired senior Police ofﬁcers found to have violated the rights of citizens (one for extra-judicial killing and the other for illegal takeover of Property of a suspect). The Panel also recovered two vehicles illegally auctioned by SARS Ofﬁcers and returned them to their owners.”
Other key recommendations of the panel include signiﬁcant improvement in the funding, kitting and facilities of the Nigeria Police; Strengthening Information and Communication Technology of the Force; Establishment of State and local government Police.”
*Our apology for the misleading headline earlier published. Although, the report made recommendations for the establishment of state and LG police, at no point did President Buhari approve their establishment.