*As Senate investigates human rights abuses by security agencies
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that personnel of security agencies involved in the killing of innocent Nigerian citizens must be made to face the full weight of the law.
Lawan stated this against the backdrop of a motion considered on Wednesday on the “need to check the culture of arbitrariness and brutality of Security Operatives to Nigerians.”
Accordingly, the Senate during plenary mandated its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate human rights abuses by Nigerian Security agencies.
The upper chamber, while urging the various security agencies to establish hotlines to enable Nigerians report abuses by their agents, called for the establishment of a Special Bureau Unit that monitors the conducts of its officers, arrests and charges erring ones.
It also mandated the Committees on Police Affairs, and Judiciary and Human Rights to investigate allegations of extrajudicial executions and make recommendations for reparation.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, while commenting on the recent activities and extrajudicial killings by men of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of those involved.
According to him, any security personnel involved in the killing of innocent Nigerians must be made to face the full weight of the law.
“I think that this is a situation that should be properly investigated. The recent incident should not be swept under the carpet.
“Those involved in the recent incident should be arrested and prosecuted. There are good people in all the security agencies just as there are had people.
“Scrapping of agencies might not be the right thing to do. Rule of law should be the guiding principle. If anyone does the wrong thing, they must be prepared to face the consequences.
“Like some of us indicated, there are good elements in SARS, and they have been doing a wonderful job. If you scrap SARS for example, you lose the chance of getting those that are doing well to continue to do so.
“Anybody in SARS or any security agency that commits excesses should be prosecuted. The law should take its full course.
“It is not enough to dismiss them from service, what does the law say if he kills someone? This is not acceptable. In fact, it makes Nigeria like some of our colleagues have said, a laughing stock.
“We have the jurisdiction and constitutional mandate to review the laws governing the operations or establishment of these agencies,” Lawan said.
The Senate President added that, “those involved must be arrested and prosecuted, and Nigerians need to know what happens. It is not enough to suspend the activities of SARS.
“What happens to those that have killed innocent Nigerians? If someone is killed by the law that is understandable. But when someone who is supposed to protect Nigerians kills a Nigerian unduly, without any due course of process, he probably loses his life too. And that is what we expect to see happen.”
Earlier, sponsor of the motion, Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC – Lagos Central), said that Nigeria, despite being a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, still records the unabated brutality of Security operatives towards Nigerians.
The lawmaker expressed concern that, “Nigerian youth can no longer move freely for fear that they will be profiled and accused of being ‘yahoo boys’ or fraudsters, merely because they look good, own laptops, iPhones, nice looking cars, or profiled for having dreadlocks and certain hairstyles.
“Only recently, the global and social media was awash with the #EndSARS Campaign and stories of brutality of the men of the Special Anti-Robbery Response Squad.”
Tinubu added that “with more Nigerian youth being involved with software development, fintech and doing more remote jobs in ICT, profiling by Policemen is a major problem.”
She expressed worry that “despite assurances by the Inspector-General of Police in 2015 and 2017 that there would be reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Nigerians are daily, still being abducted and extorted, under duress, with no mechanism in place for complaints and resolution of same.”
According to the lawmaker, “SARS operations have degenerated into intimidation, harassment and extortion of innocent Nigerians.”
She noted that as a bye-effect of the fear of the Nigerian Police, Nigerians cannot report occurrence of crime to the police without being made to part with cash or fearing that they will be detained for the commission of the same offence they have come to report.
Contributing to the motion, Senator Adamu Aliero (APC – Kebbi Central) said, “what is currently going on is a violation of all conventional agreements that Nigeria has signed on fundamental human rights, and even a violation of our constitution. We should not allow this kind of thing to continue.
“Suffice to say that we can not afford extrajudicial killings in a constitutional democracy we are operating today. It should be condemned and nobody should be killed without a just cause.
“Let us go through the judicial process, let the Judiciary determine that a person has actually committed the offence and its beyond any reasonable doubt before a person can be killed.”
On his part, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege (APC – Delta Central) said, “we have a Constitution which guarantees the privacy of our citizens, if nothing else, at least protects them until there’s a warrant for their arrest before they can be searched.
“But now these people have become more like extortionists taking money from people by going into their phones, not because they want to provide law enforcement, but they are looking for ways to force these people to part with money.”
The Senate while mandating the Committee on Police Affairs to organize a stakeholders’ meeting to investigate implementation of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act, 2019, urged the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to review the objectives behind the establishment of the tactical squads with a view to permanently restricting their interference in daily activities of Nigerians.