*Investigates rights violation by defunct SARS
*IGP acted courageously, says NHRC
By Hassan Zaggi
Unknown to Nigerians, the daughters of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, brought the pressure that led to the final disbandment of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Zarah Buhari and Kiki Osinbajo, were in the fore among Nigerian influencers who kicked against the abominable acts of the defunct SARS.
The two young ladies had through their separate Instagram accounts thrown support for the campaign to end brutality against citizens traced to the unit.
Nigerians have for long mounted #EndSARS campaign, providing verifiable evidence of brutality, extra-judicial killing, torture and all forms of inhuman treatment meted on fellow Nigerians by SARS operatives, who dressed more like armed bandits, than wear any official anti-crime paraphernalia.
Although the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, had penultimate week announced the disbandment, he immediately reinstated the ban through a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, but succumbed to pressure and again personally issued a statement disbanding the notorious unit yesterday.
Two of his predecessors had three times in the past disbanded SARS, but the notorious outfit swung back almost immediately, fueling speculation that the last has not yet been heard of the dreaded police unit.
In mounting pressure for the outfit to be kicked out, Kiki Osinbajo had posted a picture on her Instagram handle showing a clenched fist with the caption, “POLICE BRUTALITY MUST END NOW. #endpolicebrutality #endsars”.
On her part, Zahra Buhari applied several tags supportive of the anti-SARS campaign on her handle.
The Reaction of the two ladies has, however, elicited mixed reactions with some Nigerians taunting them on their relationship with the President and the Vice-President.
Conversely, they also got support from people who drew a boundary between their actions and that of their fathers respectively.
For instance: a_bas_sido wrote: “Do you discuss how bad the country is to your dad ?”; cowgirlpolyy wrote: “U better off comment session lol”; aka_akp wrote: “Tell your papa to end am, your papa Dey rule Nonsense”; odutayosamiat wrote: “She has the right to post whatever she likes! If she didn’t post, you people will still come for her! Let her be biko”; ogo__nne wrote: “I don’t understand the stupidity of some ppl… coming to comment trash on someone else page. pls free kiki Osibanjo she is not the problem of this country… she has lend her voice… all we can do is to support Nd go”; ujah_xhidoxie wrote: “Thank you very much, but you people should tell us the truth what is happening in that seat, what is really happening, do we have president and vice?”; runamieallwayz wrote: “Is your daddy not the VP? Go straight to him and talk to him”; beauty_rush_112 wrote: “Madam talk to ur daddy we are not joking”, while oludapotosin wrote: “Glad you joined the movement #endsarsbrutality #endpolicebrutality.”
*What the IGP said on SARS
Meanwhile, the IGP, Adamu, yesterday personally issued a statement nailing SARS coffin.
According to the police boss, “the Nigeria Police leadership has, since the commencement of the protests, been engaging the leadership of some Civil Society Organisations with a view to initiating meaningful and wide-ranging discussions on the subjects of their concern”.
He stated: “Following a review of the current developments, and in due cognizance of the wide and legitimately held concerns of well-meaning citizens on the existence and operations of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, as a responsive and citizens-oriented Police Force, it is hereby directed as follows:
“The Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police, otherwise known as SARS, is hereby dissolved across all Formations, the 36 State Police Commands and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) where they currently exist.
“All officers and men currently serving in the Unit are to be redeployed with immediate effect.
“New policing arrangements to address the offences of armed robbery, and other violent crimes that fall within the mandate of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad shall be presented in due course”.
Adamu stated that before he took the decision, he had put SARS under constant monitoring and due assessment by the government.
He added that “the government acknowledges the inalienable rights of citizens to freedom of association and expression. The current agitation, in this context, is seen as a manifestation of the natural desire of citizens to participate in matters concerning policing and internal security in the nation. This is indeed one of the fundamental principles of Community Policing, which we are currently implementing”.
He said that a “Citizens and Strategic Stakeholders’ Forum will be formed to regularly interface with the leadership of the police at all levels and advice on police activities”.
He added that “an investigation team will be constituted which will include civil society organisations for transparency, and culprits will be punished”.
*IGP acted courageously, says NHRC
Reacting to the development, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has commended the “courage and display of mark of a listening government through the disbandment of SARS by the Federal Government”.
In a statement by the Executive Secretary, Barr. Tony Ojukwu, the commission said that “in line with its mandate of promoting, protecting and enforcing human rights in Nigeria, the NHRC has been monitoring reports from individual victims and the media with respect to human rights violation of innocent members of the public by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) as well as other police units across the country.
“The Commission is equally aware of the public outcry to scrap SARS so as to put an end to these violations which has now been met by the Federal Government as a mark of its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights of Nigerians.
He commended the federal government who he said, “responded to public outcry against human rights violations by SARS in constituting a special Presidential investigation panel with a broad-based membership including the civil society to investigate these allegations and make appropriate recommendations to sanction any SARS operatives found to have violated human rights of members of the public and to also suggest measures to reform SARS.
“With the initial and right step to disband SARS by the IGP as part of the recommendations of the Presidential Panel, the stage is now set to implement the other recommendations of the panel and in this regard, the government had requested the Commission to constitute a broad based implementation committee inclusive of relevant government agencies and civil society organizations to ensure the transparent, comprehensive and accountable implementation of the white paper on the presidential panel report.
“The Commission assures Nigerians that the federal government is wholly committed to protecting the human rights of all Nigerians in accordance with the 1999 Constitution as amended, Nigeria’s international human rights obligations and respect for the rule of law”.
He urged Nigerian to appreciate the sacrifices made by SARS “in bursting armed robbery and other heinous crimes in the country even at the risk of their personal safety and some of them have paid the supreme sacrifice too”.
He insisted that the SARS/police officers tarnishing the image of government and the police force should be made to be accountable.