37 former members of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police have been recommended for dismissal from service.
The Police Service Commission is also expected to order the prosecution of 24 other ex-SARS operatives for various acts of professional misconduct.
These were the highlights of the Report of the Presidential Panel on Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad set up by the Federal Government in 2018 to reform the dreaded unit.
The presidential panel had, among other things, investigated allegations of human rights violations and abuse of office against SARS and recommended reform or restructuring of the outfit.
Presenting the report to the PSC Chairman, Musiliu Smith, in Abuja on Friday, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, called for a speedy implementation of the panel recommendations.
A statement by the PSC spokesman, Ikechukwu Ani, said Ojukwu observed that the PSC chairman has all it takes to deal appropriately with the report of the panel.
The statement was titled, ‘PSC to partner Human Rights Commission, promises immediate action on report of presidential panel on reform of SARS.’
“We have come to see a PSC determined to play a leading role in the reform of the Nigeria Police Force,” Ojukwu was quoted to have said.
Ojukwu said the reform was the most topical issue in the country today, adding that a lot was expected from the PSC.
He noted that the panel called for and 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 Force in general.
The statement said, “Ojukwu said at the end of the public hearing, the panel recommended 37 police officers for dismissal and 24 were recommended for prosecution.
“The panel also directed the Inspector -General of Police to unravel the identity of 22 officers involved in the violation of the human rights of innocent citizens.”
Receiving a copy of the report, Smith said the PSC would collaborate and support the NHRC in the promotion of good governance.
He, however, said that for effective reform of “the much-maligned SARS,” there must be a deliberate effort to select capable, professional and credible people to replace the disbanded outfit.
The selected officers, he added, must be properly trained and exposed to regular training.
Smith stated, “There must also be close supervision of the newly selected officers so that the nation will not experience the rot that became the fate of the disbanded unit.”
Any misconduct, he noted, should be severely and promptly handled.
The former IG said the government should show more concern on the funding of its vital agencies as they needed robust funding to do their job.
He also made a case for proper and good accommodation for police officers, stressing that “these officers need good accommodation to put in their best.”
In the meantime, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres has said he welcomes the Federal Government’s decision to undertake “broader reforms” in the Nigeria Police Force following the #EndSARS protests.
Speaking through his spokesman, Mr. Stephane Dujarric, in New York on Thursday, Guterres said the UN was ready to “accompany Nigeria in those efforts.”
While noting that he was keenly following the ongoing protests, the UN chief urged the country’s security forces to exercise “maximum restraint” in their response.
“The Secretary-General is following the protests in Nigeria calling for the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and an end to human rights violations allegedly committed by security agencies.
“The Secretary-General stresses the importance of respect for peaceful protests and freedom of assembly and calls on the security forces to exercise maximum restraint in the policing of the demonstrations.
“He welcomes the decision by the Government of Nigeria to disband the Special Anti-robbery Unit and undertake broader police reforms.
“He expresses the readiness of the United Nations to accompany Nigeria in those efforts,” Dujarric said.