A human rights group, Intersociety, has posed 20 questions an acceptable Special Anti-Robberry Squad (SARS) must address in Nigeria.
In a statement signed the board chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi, and Head, Civil Liberties and Rule of Law Program, Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq., the group said the comprehensive and acceptable Police or Police SARS reform(s) in Nigeria which it and other well meaning Nigerians are demanding must critically and comprehensively address the following twenty questions:
1. Why must torture especially physical impairment be used by Police SARS operatives and the NPF generally to extract confessional statements from custody suspects? 2. Apart from torture and extra judicial or unlawful killings; are there no other measures of processing or questioning citizens suspected to be in conflict with capital offenses of armed robbery and kidnapping? 3. Why must citizens arrested and detained in connection with the above named offenses be held without admin bail or court trial beyond constitutional limits of 60 days? 4. Must investigations into all elements of crimes be concluded before arrested suspects are charged to court of competent jurisdiction? 5. Are processes of charging investigated citizens in court of competent jurisdiction with conclusively investigated crime elements and right to file motion(s) for the amended charges on a later date for addition of those which investigations were concluded lastly no longer permissible or admissible in Nigeria’s criminal laws?
6. Why must detained suspects be indiscriminately denied access to good food and safe drinking water, ventilation and medical care as well as their lawyers, wives and other family members? 7. Why must detained suspects be arraigned in magistrate courts that lack jurisdiction in trying armed robbery and kidnap offenses? 8. Why must magistrate court remand orders be recklessly used to keep the suspects in unconstitutional long detention to swell the ranks of awaiting trial inmates in Nigeria? 9. Are there no time limits to criminal investigation in offenses of armed robbery and kidnapping in Nigeria? 10. Why must magistrates and judges and the Nigerian Bar Association including defense lawyers participate or preside over trial or arraignment of citizens detained for three months, six months, one year, two years or more; or beyond the constitutional limits without court trial or administrative bail; contrary to Section 35(4) of the Constitution?
11. How mentally efficient and ICT compliant are Police SARS operatives involved in crime intelligence, detection andinvestigation? 12. What mechanisms are put in place by Nigeria Police High Command to facilitate periodic in-service and out-service training of Police SARS operatives in arts of crime detection, intelligence and investigation in Nigeria?13.Crimes have not only become sophisticated but also found their way into the moon, is the Nigeria Police Force not unstoppably matching back to the cave or using pre-computer age skills and tools to fight or control crimes of computer age in Nigeria? 14. Key motives behind torture and unlawful killings by Police SARS in the country have been severally identified as corruption and abuse of power, how can these be checkmated? 15. What is the fate of Nigeria’s central crime lab or forensic department, moribund or obsolete?
16. Are there plans by the Nigeria Police Force to engage several universities or expert policing intelligence and investigation bodies within the country or beyond its shores in resource borrowings and exchanges for the enhancement of its out-fashioned and archaic crime detection, intelligence and investigation system? 17. Victimology is a branch of criminology and law dealing with welfare and other issues related to victims of crime, what is its policy or statutory direction in the so called Police SARS reform in Nigeria? 18. The perpetrators of Police SARS atrocities in the country especially in the past three years have remained on the prowl and untouchable, what is their punitive fate in the so called “Police SARS reform”? 19. Can Police SARS or entire Police reform in Nigeria be effective isolating domestication of important international human rights instruments such as UN Conventions Against Torture and Enforced Disappearances as well as criminalization of their prohibitions? 20. If the activities of Police SARS are restricted to offenses of armed robbery and kidnapping as publicly disclosed by the IGP, why is the same IGP using them to hunt, arrest, detain, prosecute and persecute media and human rights activists for exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and information?
The society joined other Nigerians and global citizens to demand immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Samuel Ogundipe of the Premium Times, who was arrested recently by the same SARS and secretly arraigned and remanded in the prison custody. It demands that all phantom charges against the Premium Times’ security reporter as well as those slammed by SSS against Mr. Jones Abiri of the Weekly Source Magazine who was detained for almost two years without trial must be dropped and permanently discontinued; with all cases of detention without trial by Police and SSS in Nigeria comprehensively reviewed and addressed.