The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to ensure officers of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) who are involved in human rights abuses are punished.
“The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) must act to identify and punish those operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) involved in the most severe cases of abuse of rights, brutality, and murder of Nigerian citizens,” the Speaker was quoted as saying in a statement by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi on Sunday.
“These steps are necessary to assure the Nigerian people that the announced dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is sincere and well-intentioned, and not merely meant to quell the ongoing protests across the country”.
Gbajabiamila made the call a few hours after the IGP announced that the infamous police unit had been dissolved, in reaction to widespread protests by Nigerians who called for him to do just that.
The Speaker considers the dissolution of SARS a “necessary response” by the government and he commended the IGP and President Muhammadu Buhari for heeding the people’s demand about the unit, which has gained notoriety over the years for extortion, brutality, and other forms of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings.
He also believes that the development and the broader, ongoing reforms of the police that will follow, are a testament to the passion and resilience of a generation of Nigerians who determined not to accept or tolerate injustice in whatever form it takes.
While the protests were ongoing, there were still pockets of harassment, violence, and even the killing of a young man, Jimoh Isiaq in Ogbomoso.
Expressing his displeasure over these, Gbajabiamila noted that there is now a pressing need to have an independent system for monitoring the actions of the police.
As part of support, he had last week, promised to meet with the Nigerian Bar Association and members of civil society groups among others, to ensure that structural reforms and policies are put in place to end the years-long menace.
Reiterating that promise, he said the House will continue its work to legislate lasting solutions to the problems of policing in Nigeria.
Specifically, the Speaker promised that the green chamber will be meeting with the aforementioned groups “to begin joint efforts at developing a legislative proposal”.