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Police reform: Buhari Panel recommends creation of state police, dismissal of 37 officers

THE Panel on the reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police has recommended the dismissal of 37 police officers, and also directed the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed to unravel the identity of twenty-two officers involved in the violation of the human rights of innocent citizens.

The panel has also recommended the establishment of the state and local government police, as well as strengthening information and communication technology of the force.

Anthony Ojukwu, executive secretary of National Human Rights Commission who headed the panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2018 submitted its report on Monday in Abuja to the president. 

The panel, whose membership was constituted by the National Human Rights Commission, was empowered to make recommendations on how to hold police officers found wanting accountable, and also, on how SARS and the larger Nigeria Police Force could be properly reformed.

The report noted that it received  113 complaints across Nigeria. After the complaints were investigated, the panel arrived at the conclusions and recommendations.

“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 in general,” Ojukwu said.

“At the end of its public hearing and having listened to complaints as well as defendants and their counsel, the Panel recommended thirty-seven 37 Police officers for dismissal from the force.”

The panel also recommended 24 officials for prosecution.

It also directed the Inspector General of Police to unravel the identity of twenty-two officers involved in the violation of the human rights of innocent citizens.

The report added that the 22 officers were to pay compensation for various sums and tender public apologies, as well as to obey court orders due to their abused of the citizens’ right.

The panel also directed the police to immediately arrest and prosecute two retired senior police officers found to have violated the rights of citizens (one for extra-judicial killing and the other for the illegal takeover of the property of a suspect). The Panel also recovered two vehicles illegally auctioned by SARS officers and returned them to their owners.”

Responding to the panel’s report, Buhari directed the IGP and Solicitor General of the federation to implement the recommendations within three months.

He told the police at all times to act within the ambit of the law and not to violate the fundamental human rights of Nigerians whom they had sworn to protect.

“…Police while also ensuring that we keep them in check, protect the human rights of Nigerians, and ensure that offending officers are held fully accountable,” Buhari tweeted.

Nigerian police have usually been alleged of human rights violation. On March 31, a young man named Kolade Johnson was shot dead by some police officers when he had gone to watch a football match.

Also on April 12, a trending video displayed sars operatives beating a young man to a pulp for “refusing to unlock his mobile phone”.

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