Human RightsNews

SARS: Prosecution, Compensation… How NHRC Panel Decided So Far In 12 States

The investigative panel set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has recommended the prosecution of 33 operatives as well as the compensation of 57 victims to the tune of N265.8 million. 

The panel, chaired by the NHRC Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu, made this announcement on Tuesday.

The recommendations, it said, also included that 26 cases be further investigated, that pending court orders related to two cases should be complied with by the police, and that public apologies should be published in newspapers in connection to over 32 cases of human rights violations.

The 12 states where the cases investigated originated from included Akwa Ibom, Benue, Delta, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, and Rivers.

In Akwa Ibom, four officers were recommended for dismissal, four were recommended for prosecution, N12 million was awarded as compensation, and one case was ordered to be further investigated.

In Benue, N30 million was awarded as compensation to two families whose members were extrajudicially murdered, but the names of the criminal operatives were not published.

In Delta, one officer, ASP Muyiwa, was recommended for dismissal and prosecution, and compensation of N10 million for two families was recommended.

In Enugu, one Sgt. Paul Everest was recommended for dismissal and prosecution for “alleged torture leading to death in custody”, two officers were recommended for demotion, and N18.1 million was recommended to be paid to two families and one individual.

In the FCT, 12 officers were recommended for dismissal, 10 officers (including one who is retired) for prosecution, five for a reduction in rank, and compensation of N57.8 million was ordered to go to 17 complainants. The panel additionally recommended that publication of apologies in relation to seven cases, further investigations in four cases, and compliance with court orders in two cases.

In Gombe, one officer was recommended for demotion and a total sum of two million naira was recommended to be paid to two complainants in addition to public apologies.

In Imo, seven officers were recommended for both dismissal and prosecution, two were recommended for a reduction in rank, and N12 million was recommended as payment to two victims and the family of a third. A public apology is to be issued in respect of two cases and further investigations carried out respecting two.

In Kaduna, two officers were recommended for dismissal and prosecution, N10 million was ordered to be paid to the wife of a deceased victim and a public apology was recommended to be issued regarding the case.

In Kogi, no officers were ordered to be dismissed, prosecuted, or demoted. N10 million was ordered to be paid and a public apology issued to the family of an extrajudicially killed man, and three cases were recommended to be investigated further.

In Kwara, only one case of alleged extrajudicial killing was recommended for further investigation. No officers were ordered to be dismissed or prosecuted, and no compensation has yet been recommended for victims.

In Lagos, six officers were recommended for dismissal, eight (included one retired officer) for prosecution, and eight for a reduction in rank. A total sum of N90.8 million was recommended to be paid to over 24 persons, including three families of deceased victims. Public apologies were ordered to be issued respecting 10 cases, six cases were ordered to be investigated further, compliance with two court orders was recommended.

In Ogun, one Inspector Godwin Ogedengbe with FSARS in Abeokuta was recommended for dismissal and prosecution, one Sgt. Quadri Omolegbe was recommended for demotion, and the sum of four million naira  was ordered to be paid to two victims as compensation. Two public apologies were further ordered to be issued.

Finally, in Rivers, one ASP Etubi Danjuma was recommended for dismissal and prosecution, five officers were recommended for a reduction in rank, compensation of N16.5 million was recommended to be paid to three victims in addition to public apologies, and five cases were ordered to be investigated by the police.

It has meanwhile been observed by human rights lawyer, Abdul Mahmud, that the NHRC Executive Secretary lacks powers to set up an investigative panel under the agency’s establishment Act, and that only its Governing Council can do so.

“The NHRC has no Governing Council. Buhari has refused (since 2016) to appoint members into the Governing Council. If youths are fighting illegality and impunity in the streets, the names shown above shouldn’t provide legitimacy and imprimatur to illegality!” he tweeted on Friday.

“You say you don’t have leaders in this struggle, people shouldn’t harness your individual heroism with their opportunism. Buhari should constitute a national Judicial Panel of Inquiry pursuant to his powers under the Tribunal of Inquiry Act 2004. Why is this  difficult?”

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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