Maintaining law and order is a phrase that most police forcers cannot understand. Often, they commit several atrocities in the name of problem-solving. However, this has resulted in enmity between the civilians and them. In Nigeria, people have forwarded reports of misconduct, torture, and extortion they have endured from the police. For instance, the Federal Special Antirobery Squad over the past years has conducted a lot of human rights abuse. They convict the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of atrocities in Nigeria. During an interview with Africa news, Osai Ojigho, a human rights advocate, answered some top questions.
Birth of SARS
Due to an upsurge in insecurity and robbery in some parts of the country, they formed a special unit. The Defense ministry created this special force and entrusted it with the duty to stop a robbery. However, as time went by, some saw SARS as an opportunity to be powerful. Many people started joining the force. They had tarnished the true meaning of SARS since they had their best interest at heart.
There is so much corruption in the system. Therefore, the forces distribute the valuables they’ve salvaged from the criminals amongst themselves.
What Is SARS Accused of
Amnesty International advocate, Ojigho, accused SARS of committing inhumane crimes in Nigeria. Instead of leading in peaceful governance, SARS is torturing and extorting. They are the front liners in violating human rights in the country.
Young men have suffered in the hands of these forces. In June 2020, Amnesty documented cases of torture young men underwent. The methods that special forces are using to investigate crimes are barbaric. For instance, according to Nigerian Law, torture is a crime and a human right abuse.
When officers torture suspects to get confessions or money, they are breaking the law. Cases of men disappearing have also been rampant, especially after the forces have detained them. Sadly, even despite families complaining of the disappearance of their loved ones, no special force is prosecuted. Many officers in the unit have committed atrocities and apparently, nobody is doing anything to stop them.
Are these Officers Disciplined?
There have been a few cases of officers in the special unit facing reprimand. However, the discipline doesn’t affect much as the culture of atrocities keeps increasing. These officers sometimes get transferred to other locations as a discipline.
This form of discipline is too light. Instead, they should subject the officers to investigations. When found guilty, the punishment should be a demotion from the forces then face criminal prosecution for their crime. Hence when the punishment commensurate with the crime, justice prevails.
Inspector General Muhammed Adamu Bans SARS of Some Duties
Muhammed Adamu prohibited SARS from conducting duties such as stop-and-search, mounting of roadblocks, traffic checks. Instead of engaging in such notorious acts, SARS should convert its intelligence to track down criminals. It is not the first time IG submits these declarations. In the previous years, it submitted the same demanding SARS to wear their uniforms for identity. On making occasions, Nigerians have protested criticizing the SARS.
Are Other Government Agencies Also Committing Atrocities?
Although many have complained a lot about SARS in the country, torture is a tool many security agents use. Normal police force, SARS, anti-kidnapping unit, tactical unit all use torture as a tool to extract information from suspects. Amnesty International and other groups advocated for anti-torture laws. However, despite the government legalizing these laws, they have arrested no policemen despite conducting torture.
Therefore, the government of Nigerian should take the matter seriously and punish the policemen who break the law of torture.