Nigerian CSOs insist on SARS probe, blast governors over palliatives

Dozens of Nigerian civil society and non-governmental organisations have reiterated their request for a thorough probe of the disbanded Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

In a joint statement on Tuesday, the CSOs and NGOs restated their condemnation of the use of live bullets on unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate on October 20.

They denounced the “hoarding” of COVID-19 palliatives as well as acts of thuggery, hate speeches, fake news and attacks on policemen and security facilities.

The groups are Centre for Democracy and Development, Enough is Enough, Partners for Electoral Reform, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Yiaga Africa, Global Rights, Project Alert, Alliance for Credible Election, Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action, Centre for Information, Technology and Development.

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Signatories also include Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, HEDA Resource Centre, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, Community Life Project, Social Action, Lawyers Alert, International Press Centre, Connected Development, BudgIT, Invictus Africa, among others.

They said the 5-for-5 demands by the End SARS movement should be urgently met in the interest of the Nigerian state.

“We request the prosecution of the defunct SARS officers who have been identified in the killing, torture, and rape of citizens. We applaud the request of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to ensure speedy prosecution of 35 operatives of the defunct SARS.

“We have watched with disdain the impunity, and outrightly denounce the assault on public and private properties by hoodlums. The attack in many states on warehouses, and the looting of COVID-19 palliatives, which were supplied by the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CA-COVID), has thrown up another worrying dimension and exposes the rot and corruption in our governance system.

“We unequivocally condemn these attacks and call on the Governors’ Forum to tell Nigerians why they (Governors) intentionally hoarded food items supplied in good faith by the Coalition. We have read various official statements from some of the state governments and an unofficial statement attributed to the CA-COVID. Some of the statements raise some credibility questions.

“We have begun tracking initiated court cases, particularly in Lagos and Ogun, this in addition to the panels of inquiry/restitution set up by the states. We are reviewing the 27 of the 36 states that have announced these measures. We have also begun to document shreds of evidence with a view to track and underscore the various human rights abuses, following the End SARS protests”, the statement read.

The coalition announced the launch of a Missing Persons Portal and tracking of cases specific to violence against women.

They confirmed preparedness to provide live streaming and tech support to constituted judicial panels to enhance the credibility of the investigative process.

The groups expressed concern that Nigeria’s rights commission, which has established an independent investigation panel on SARS, does not have a governing council.

They urged President Mohammadu Buhari to grant the NHRC the required capacity and inaugurate the council without further delay.

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