Human RightsNews

NYSC, Police On Collision Course Over Alleged SARS Brutality On Corps Member

The National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) and the Nigeria Police Force in Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria, are on collision course over alleged brutality on a female corps member serving in Ogbaru Local Government Area.

The corps member, identified as Seun, was allegedly attacked at her residence by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of Nigeria Police Force about 2 a.m. on Thursday, September 17, while she was sleeping,

Seun, who is participating in the one year mandatory service for university and polytechnic graduates under 30 years, said the operatives stormed her hostel and accused her of being an internet fraudster.

She said her attackers broke her window net and commandeered her to open the door or they would force their way into the room.

Seun said she was virtually naked when her attackers came and flashed a torchlight in her face.

She said she ran out of her room into a neighbour’s and the men still went to the room, ordered her out and threatened to deal with her after which they broke into the apartment through the window.

Seun said she was beaten, manhandled, called names and made to dress up before the male operatives.

The SARS unit of the police is notorious for human rights violations, often detaining crime suspects illegally and using torture to extract information from them.

Amnesty International in a recent report entitled, Nigeria: Time To End Impunity: Torture And Other Violations By SARS, noted that cases of abuse had continued to take place despite public outcry as well as local and international laws guaranteeing rights against torture.

The organisation documented 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment, and extrajudicial killing by SARS with most victims being young and vulnerable persons.

The SARS unit in Awkuzu under the Police Command in Anambra State has been at the centre of many of the allegations.

Seun said: “ As I continued to shout for help, one of my neighbours opened her door for me and I entered her room and was shocked as they still came to the window of the woman insisting that we must open the door or they would break the door.

“Some of them later broke into an empty room by cutting off the burglary (proof) and entered the passage. The others broke the burglary (proof) of the room we were in, opened the door for others to have access.

“They assaulted me, slapping and hitting me with cutlasses and sticks.

“I was practically naked and had to plead with them to allow me to put on my clothes which they eventually allowed but violated my privacy as I was forced to dress up in their presence.

“The beating continued after that and I got handcuffed like a common criminal for an offence I knew nothing about.”

Mr Kehinde Aremu, the Coordinator of NYSC in Anambra State, said the agency viewed the incident with serious concern and would ensure that the perpetrators were punished.

Aremu said he alongside the victim had met with Mr John Abang, the Commissioner of Police in Anambra State, at the Police Command Headquarter, Awka, and later went to SARS office in Awka to meet with the commander.

He said he had been assured by Abang that justice would be done, adding that the NYSC would wait for progress in the investigation as the police promised.

“We are on top of the matter, we are not taking it lying low, for a lawful Nigerian who is serving the fatherland to be treated that way is unacceptable.

“I have met with the commissioner of police both in his office and at the SARS office.

“He has also seen the corps member and expressed his regrets but more importantly, the CP has assured that the perpetrators will not go scott free,” Aremu said.

The Spokesman for the police in the state, SP Haruna Mohammed, confirmed the incident and said; “CP has invited the corps member through the coordinator and has ordered for discreet investigation of the allegation.”

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