Rights abuses: NHRC sets up panel to probe SARS

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has constituted a panel to investigate allegations of rights abuses and other activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
A statement by the commission, said the special investigation panel, to be headed by NHRC’s Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu was in furtherance of a recent presidential directive to that effect.
In the statement, an official of the commission, Uche Mebrim, quoted Ojukwu as saying that the panel was constituted pursuant to the provisions of the National Human Rights Commission Act, 1995 as amended.
He said the panel would sit in Abuja and the six geo-political zones of the country to listen to complaints from victims of alleged human rights violations against SARS operatives and members of the public, who have suggestions on reforming SARS and improving public safety and security in Nigeria.
Ojukwu said that the Panel is expected to submit its report to the Federal Government after ninety days of its inauguration and that member of the public are requested to cooperate with the panel to ensure a smooth national assignment.
Ojukwu, who has since inaugurated the panel in Abuja, called on members to brace up for the task of proffering recommendations aimed at improving policing, public safety and security in general.
He said the panel’s members were carefully selected in accordance with their deep commitment to deepening promotion of respect for the rule of law, depth of experience and knowledge in human rights and policing and their track records in public service.
He said NHRC has issued call for memoranda in two national dailies, requesting members of the public to bring forward their complaints and has also inaugurated a special panel of investigation for the national assignment.
He gave the panel’s terms of reference include: “to independently review and render advice on any value added by SARS from a public safety and security perspective and make recommendations to the government on the steps that may be taken to reform or restructure SARS.
“Measures to be taken in respect of operatives of SARS, if any, found in violation of human rights of citizens; remedial steps that may enhance the professional conduct of SARS operatives and other members of the Nigeria Police; and any other recommendations that may be considered appropriate.”
Members of the panel include Ojukwu, Tijani Mohammed (from the Police Service Commission), David I. Shagba ( Public Service Commission) and Chino Obiagwu) representing civil society).
Others are Hashimu Argungu (a retired police officer), Prof. Etannibi Alemika (an independent expert on policing) and Abdulrahman Ayinde Yakubu (NHRC, who will act as panel’s Secretary).