The protracted debate over state police may have thawed as the Presidential Panel on the Reform of Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, has recommended that the establishment of state and local government police as panacea for the spiralling insecurity in the country.
This was one of the highlights of the report of the panel headed by the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Mr. Anthony Ojukwu. The panel also recommended the dismissal of some 37 police officers for various misdemeanours majorly bordering on human rights abuses.
Ojukwu revealed these while submitting the panel’s report to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, on Monday.
The panel, according to Ojukwu, received 113 complaints on alleged human rights violations from across the country and 22 memoranda on suggestions on how to reform and restructure SARS and the Nigeria Police in general.
He said: “At the end of its public hearing and having listened to complaints as well as defendants and their counsel, the panel recommended thirty seven (37) police ofﬁcers for dismissal from the force. Twenty four (24) were recommended for prosecution.
“The panel also directed the Inspector General of Police to unravel the identity of twenty two (22) ofﬁcers involved in the violation of the human rights of innocent citizens.
“The police was directed to pay compensation of various sums in forty-ﬁve (45) complaints and tender public apologies in ﬁve (5) complaints and directed to obey court orders in ﬁve (5) matters.
“The police was directed to immediately arrest and prosecute two (2) retired senior police ofﬁcers found to have violated the rights of citizens (one for extra-judicial killing and the other for illegal take-over of property of a suspect). The panel also recovered two vehicles illegally auctioned by SARS ofﬁcers and returned them to their owners.”
Some other key recommendations of the panel include “Signiﬁcant improvement in the funding, kitting and facilities of the Nigeria; police force; strengthening information and communication technology of the force; establishment of state and local government police.”