The National Human Rights Commission has undertaken steps to conduct and independent assessment of SARS detention facilities nationwide as well as the conditions of detainees in such facilities. The Inspector General Of Police, Ibrahim Idris who gave the approval has allowed NHRS unrestrained access to all police formation, detention centres and facilities nationwide.
The Inspector-General of Police has approved the request of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to commence an independent audit of detention cells in all police commands and formations in Nigeria including those of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
These visits will enable the NHRC oversee the human rights situation of detainees as well as undertake general audit of the state of Police detention facilities (cells) in the country. This exercise is part of the NHRC 2018 audit of police detention centers in Nigeria.
The Nigeria police, especially its Special Anti-Robbery Robbery Squad (SARS) have come under heavy fire from various quarters over its activities allegedly bordering on harassment, extortion, excessive use of force, illegal arrests and torture.
Recently there’s been videos and pictures that went viral in Lagos and other places in Nigeria showing some members of the police force torturing innocent citizens over illegal search and detention. In China Town Ojota few days ago, video clip emerged showing a young man lying unconscious on floor after being illegal shot at with tear gas (pepper spray) needlessly. It turned out the he was asthmatic. Also, it illegal arrest and phone searching and police harassment are on the virge of becoming an acceptable custom in Nigeria as it has become almost acceptable for the police to stop anyone without any reason other than witch hunt and demand to search the contents of your locked phone without any authorisation or court warrant, failure to comply with the search is a direct invitation to be arrested.
Although the Inspector General Of Police, Ibrahim Idris has tasked a special police unit to check erring police officers, results are not yet satisfactory.
Nigerians who heaved a sigh of relief when the IG ordered members of SARS to stop doing stop and search on the roads quickly relapsed into a state of despair after learning of the phrase “only when necessary” in communiqué ordering SARS member to desist from the roads. It appears “only when necessary” is completely left to the discretion of SARS to apply.