NHRC TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARING ON COMPLAINTS OF RIGHTS VIOLATIONS BY SARS

Posted: 2017-10-20


The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is to hold a Public Hearing into various complaints of unlawful arrest and detention of some Nigerians by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force.

The Acting Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Mrs. Oti Ovrawah who was represented at the occasion by the Director of Monitoring Department, Mr. Tony Ojukwu (Esq) disclosed this when a delegation of the United States Embassy led by its Fraud Prevention Manager, Rachel Atwood Mendiola visited the Commission on an orientation tour.

Mr. Ojukwu noted that already "the NHRC is investigating the alleged human rights violations by the Police with a view to holding erring officers and men of the Force to account". He added that the Commission has continuously received complaints on such violations and it is becoming worrisome to the institution.

The Senior Human Rights Official observed that the idea of holding the Public Hearing will enable the Commission invite and interrogate officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force who were alleged to have committed such violations, with a view to ensuring that justice is done to all the parties concerned without unnecessary delay.

He informed the delegation that the Commission was already carrying out a similar exercise on complaints on Hate Speech and Election Violence and that the Commission was rallying stakeholders around to have a roundtable to establish what really constitutes hate speech. Subsequently, a public hearing will be held to establish culpability for hate speeches and election violence.

The Director stated further that the Commission was assessing what it gathered on the field before, during and after the 2015 general elections where issues of hate speech and election violence featured. She said during the public hearing, accused persons would be interrogated and afforded fair hearing on the allegations against them. Those found culpable will be recommended thereafter to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) for further action and possible prosecution".

Besides, he disclosed that the Commission will develop a Register where names of those found culpable for Hate Speech or Election Violence would be published and that the same is expected to be used for reference purposes when the need arises. According to her, the register would serve as a deterrent to those intend to perpetrate such crime.

On some of the Commission's achievement, the Chair of the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) into Military/Shiite clash told the visiting US team that the Commission had ensured accountability on the part of the security agencies as it has ensured that justice prevailed against any reported case of human rights violation. She cited the case of a teenager allegedly molested by a soldier in Maiduguri, the recommendation of Army/Shiites clash, alleged burning of a man to death by a soldier, Killings in Bama, Borno state, the controversial Apo Killings in Abuja among several others interventions.

Earlier, the US envoy said that they visited the Commission on an orientation tour and would like to know the workings of the NHRC. Upon requesting the nature of human rights violations in across the various parts of the country, the Commission through its Director of Protection and Investigation, Mr. Abdul-Rahaman Yakubu told the US delegation that the Commission had numerous cases of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual and gender based violence and mistreatment of citizens by the law enforcement agents across the nation. He stated further that some complaints are peculiar to certain parts of the country where they occur, for instance he said, "complaints of land disputes and communal clashes are prevalent in the South East while complaints on Farmers/Herdsmen clashes are endemic in the North Central".

There are also complaints on violations by law enforcement agents in the North East and South South where there are large scale internal security operations.


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