The National Human Rights Commission said on Tuesday that it was about to set up an Independent Investigation Panel to look into human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad and other segments of the Nigeria Police Force.
A statement by the commission’s Assistant Director Public Affairs, Fatimah Mohammed, said the proposed IIP would be set up “within the next one week”.
The NHRC’s plan to set up the fresh panel came about 16 months after a presidential panel headed by the Executive Secretary of the commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu, submitted its report recommending among others, the proscription of SARS to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) in March last year.
No move was made to implement the report of the panel until protests broke out in different parts of the country, demanding the disbandment of SARS and an end to police brutality in the country.
The NHRC’s plan to set up a fresh Independent panel came as the anti-SARS protests gained momentum and spread to other parts of the country despite the announcement of disbandment of the police unit by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
The commission said on Tuesday that the decision to set up the IIP was taken on October 12, 2020 at a Multi-Stakeholders’ Forum in Abuja organised by the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, and the Inspector General of Police as a follow-up to the recent SARS disbandment.
The statement added, that the Executive Secretary of the commission would make “an open call for memoranda from members of the public whose rights have been violated by the defunct SARS and other segments of the police” within a week.
It stated that the multi-stakeholder forum where the decision to set up the IIP was taken “recommends the psychological evaluation, training and retraining of disbanded SARS officials prior to re-deployment.”
Is added, “There was also an agreement by the forum that the Inspector General of Police should order all State Police Commands to halt the use of force against protesters and to release arrested protesters and citizens unconditionally.
“The Forum, according to him, resolved to set up the following Technical Committees, to be supported by the NHRC and other Civil Society Organisations to design the roadmap and a work plan for the implementation of the White Paper of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of SARS.”
It also noted that the forum “affirmed that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement which bothers on giving justice to victims of SARS brutality and improved working conditions for police personnel are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the Government.”