Panel recommends dismissal of 35 SARS officials, prosecution of 33

The Presidential Investigative Panel on Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force that investigated rights abuses and other inhuman treatment by men of the disbanded unit has recommended dismissal of 35 of police personnel who served in the unit for engaging various forms of misconduct, including extra-judicial killings.

The panel also recommended 33 for prosecution, 23 for reduction in ranks and two to be arrested and prosecuted.

It recommended 26 cases for further investigation by the police, 57 in which victims are to be compensated and two cases in which pending court orders are to be obeyed by the police.

It recommended public apology over 32 cases to be published in newspapers and other means.

The recommendations affect cases distilled from 13 states with the Federal Capital territory (FCT) having the largest number of people recommended for dismissal.

It has 12, followed by Imo with seven, Lagos with six, Akwa Ibom with four, Kaduna with two Enugu, Delta, Ogun and Rivers having one each.

Other states, in respect of which recommendations were made are Benue, Gombe, Kogi and Kwara.

The FCT also led in the number of cases in which the panel recommended compensation, with 17 cases, followed by Lagos with 15 and Ogun and Enugu with four each.

On compensation, the panel recommended the payment N500, 000 to N20million to some of the identified victims as well as to families of deceased victims.

While some of the indicted SARS operatives were directed to personally pay the compensation, the Nigeria Police was also found liable and asked to pay some of the victims.

The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu led a team of officials of the agency to submit the report to the Attorney general of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami on Monday.

Ojukwu told newsmen the affected SARS officers were found culpable of offences that ranged from alleged extra-judicial killings, unlawful arrest and detention, threat and intimidation, unfounded allegations, seizure of properties and illegal blockage of accounts of innocent citizens.

Malami said: “Our responsibility as a government is to establish and entrench a constitutional program to take care of collective interest that will incorporate the interest of the victim of crime, the interest of the nation and the interest of the individual involved.

“This government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has indeed demonstrated effective consciousness of these factors with particular reference to perhaps the Police.

“The government has taken steps, inclusive of having in place the Police Act 2020, which  is indeed a piece of legislation established with a view to ensure that necessary reforms are brought into the operations of the Police. Far reaching indeed, with wider approach.

“Approach that has to do with the welfare of Police officers and welfare of the society as it relates to having in place community policing and indeed having necessary checks and discipline that will ensure that the Police as an institution and not necessarily a unit of it, is brought in line with the best practices for the purpose of the discharge of their responsibilities”.

He said it was in furtherance of move to enhance operations and welfare of the Police that the Police Trust Fund was established.

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