By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has set up an independent investigative panel to look into alleged atrocities perpetrated by operatives of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force.
There has been a nationwide protest against police brutality and other forms of human rights abuses for nearly two weeks, where Nigerian youth are calling for police reforms.
As Nigeria’s foremost human rights agency, the NHRC had couple of days ago, promised to constitute a independent investigative panel to uncover allegations of gross human rights abuses by operatives of the disbanded police unit.
In making good its pledge, the commission’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, on Friday, named Justice Suleiman Galadima, a retired justice of the Supreme Court as Chairman of the investigative panel.
In a statement by the commission’s spokesperson, Fatimah Agwai Mohammed, other members of the panel include: Abdulrahaman Yakubu, Yemi Ademolakun, Chioma Chuka, Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa, Tijani Mohammed, Dr. Uju Agomoh, DIG Ibrahim Lamorde, Dr. Garba Tetengi (SAN), Feyikemi Abudu and John Aikpokpo Martins, while Hilary Ogbonna will serve as Secretary of the panel.
Ojukwu noted that the terms of reference of the Panel include: investigate all complaints of human rights violations against SARS and other units of the Police force, make appropriate recommendations as per the damages and compensations to be paid to the victims of Police brutality.
Besides, the Panel is given the powers to refer any matter, in the course of their assignment to the Attorney General of the Federation, or that of a State for prosecution in accordance with the law.
The panel is empowered as well to make recommendations to government on measures to be taken in respect of operatives of defunct SARS or officers of the Nigerian Police Force, if any, found in violation of human rights of citizens and propose remedial steps that may enhance the professional conduct of defunct SARS operatives, any succeeding unit and other members of the Nigerian Police Force and any other recommendations that may be considered appropriate.