Amnesty International has welcomed the decision of the federal government of Nigeria to overhaul the Special Ant-Robbery Squad but added that this would not be complete, without the prosecution SARS officers found to have committed atrocities.
In a statement signed by its Media Manager, Isa Sanusi, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho AI said its standpoint is based on much compelling public evidence of human rights violations committed by SARS, some of it directly documented by Amnesty International
While commending the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s directive for the planned overhaul, it said:
“The growing outcry over the brutality of Nigeria’s notorious SARS Police unit has finally got the attention of the country’s authorities.
“While this is positive news, it is crucial that any overhaul of SARS be far-reaching and immediately effective.
“Restructuring SARS is not enough unless the government takes concrete steps to protect Nigerians.
“The reform ordered by the Acting President must translate into ending the torture, unlawful detention, extortion, extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights violations that SARS officers have been committing for years across Nigeria.
“That includes bringing to justice SARS officers found to have committed atrocities.
“There is much compelling public evidence of human rights violations committed by SARS, some of it directly documented by Amnesty International, and this should now be used to aid an effective investigation into the unit’s crimes.
“The special panel convened to investigate SARS must be independent and impartial. Its aims can only be achieved if victims are given time and protection to present their cases.”
In September 2016, an Amnesty International report highlighted gross violations by SARS, including torture and other forms of ill-treatment.
The report prompted assurances from the Nigerian authorities that SARS would be reformed, yet shocking violations committed by the unit had continued.