The Nigerian Bar Association on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to show sincerity in its disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad by throwing all detention centres of SARS open.
The NBA president, Mr Olumide Akpata, who made the call at a press conference in Abuja, listed some of the SARS’ infamous detention centres in the country as Abuja “human abattoir” as well as the squad’s detention centres in Lagos and Port Harcourt.
He called for a comprehensive audit of all detention centres of the disbanded squad to take stock of detainees.
The NBA made the call on Tuesday as the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said he had set up the Special Weapons and Tactics Team that would replace the disbanded SARS.
Recall that the IGP on Sunday disbanded SARS following protests by youths, who alleged high-handedness and extortion by the squad.
The NBA president, who warned security agents against attacking anti-SARS campaigners, said the association would provide legal support for protesters.
Akpata said the association had set up a platform, firstname.lastname@example.org, for submission of complaints by members of the public.
According to him, the FG should throw SARS’ detention centres open to prove that the squad has been truly disbanded.
He said mere pronouncements of the disbandment of SARS would not put an end to protests against police brutality.
“What is key now is sincerity,” Akpata said while answering a question on what the government needed to do to end the protests.
He added, “First and foremost, the issue to address is that the issue of detention centres of SARS around the country where people are detained for alleged offences. They should be addressed.
“As a mark of good faith, and good disclosure, it will be important for the police to throw open these centres just to convince us that not only has SARS been disbanded, but also that indeed its activities have been brought to an end.”
Akpata also said the public must see that culpable SARS operative were either disciplined or prosecuted depending on the degrees of allegations established against them.
NBA lists Abuja human abattoir, Lagos, P’Harcourt, others as SARS’ infamous detention centres
He identified the most notorious SARS detention centres in the country to include “the infamous ‘human abattoir’ in Abuja”, the one in Awkuzu, Anambra State and the others in Lagos, and Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The NBA president, who categorised the group’s demands into short, mid and long terms, called for “an immediate audit of the detainees” in the notorious centres “and other facilities”, as part of its mid-term demands.
He also demanded “an expedited audit of the various SARS detention centres across the country.”
As part of its short -term demands, Akpata said the right of the citizens to protest “is an inalienable and fundamental right that is not only recognised by the Nigerian constitution but has also been consistently upheld by Nigerian courts at all levels”.Aside from condemning any ban on protests, the NBA president called on “governments at all levels to protect the rights of all citizens participating in the peaceful protests across the country.”
SWAT replaces SARS
Also on Tuesday, the IGP, Adamu, explained why SWAT was set up to replace SARS.
A statement by the Force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, in Abuja stated that the prospective members of the new team would undergo tactical training next week.
It said they would undergo a psychological and medical examination to ascertain their fitness and eligibility for the new assignment.
It disclosed that the personnel from police commands in the South-East and the South-South would be trained at the Counter-Terrorism College, Nonwa-Tai, Rivers State.
Those from the police commands in the North and the South-West will be trained at the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ende, Nasarawa State and the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ila-Orangun, Osun State, respectively.
The statement was titled, ‘IGP orders all defunct SARS personnel to report at the force headquarters for psychological and medical examination.’
It also disclosed that the IG had ordered all personnel of the defunct SARS to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.
The statement read, “The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, today, 13th October 2020, in accordance with section 18 (10) of the Police Act 2020, ordered all personnel of the defunct SARS to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.
“The officers are expected to undergo this process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties.”