‘Police is Frustrating Our Progress’, Investigating Panel on SARS Raises Alarm

By Shola Akingboye, 23rd March 2021

The Independent Investigative Panel on allegations of human rights violations by defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the police force sitting in Abuja on Tuesday declared that it will not succumb to any plan by the police to render the panel impotent due to its negligence to its invitations.

A member of the panel, John Aikpokpo Martin stated this during the panel’s sitting in Abuja Tuesday, when the police legal team, led by James Idachaba played around the persitence refusal of the Commander of Inspector General of Police, Intelligence Response Team (IGP-IRT), DCP Abba Kyari and other police officers who were earlier ordered by the panel to appear before it.

The visibly worried panellist expressed disapointment that the Tuesday’s invitation is not the only time DCP Abba Kyari and some other officers under his command are disobeying the order of the panel to appear before it to throw more light on issues relating to violations of rights of some citizens.

When Raphael Ushahemba Ashwe and Mr. Morris Fate Ashiwe’s petition over alleged enforced disappearance was called up during the sitting, police counsel, Idachaba told the panel that DCP Abba Kyari was not in the panel because he led a troop out of Abuja on a national assignment, the same excuse police gave to the panel a couple of times ago when petitions involving Abba Kyari led IGP-IRT came up before the panel.

It was at this point that Aikpokpo Martin who represents the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in the panel addressed the police saying, the excuse that DCP Abba Kyari led other police officers outside Abuja on a national assignment cannot stand as an excuse before the panel.

Continuing, the 1st Vice President of NBA stated that it would have been a different thing if the police is saying that all they needed to obey the order of the panel is to give them an extension of time with specified dates, so that the affected police officers including DCP Abba Kyari can comply with the earlier order mandating them to come before the panel.

The eminent jurist recalled that what brought the panel into being was protests by the Nigerian youths concerning allegations of human rights violations by SARS and other units of the Nigerian Police which he noted almost crumbled the whole Nigerian edifice. This is why activities at the panel should be seen as a serious business, he noted.

He opined that the panel is even more important than the said national assignment for which DCP Abba Kyari and some other officers under his command have repeatedly failed to appear before the panel as earlier ordered.

He, however, conceded that the country is presently facing some difficult situation in terms of security which could call the attention of such police officer to special duties, but he quickly noted that such developments are not enough for disobeying an order made by the panel saying that the police cannot render the panel impotent.

In conclusion, he promised to relay what is happening at the panel to the NBA which he represents, insisting that the panel will not be impotent and must carry out its national assignment accordingly.

The allegations for which DCP Abba Kyari and other policemen were ordered to appear before the panel involve allegations of enforced disappearance, extra-judicial killings, unlawful arrest and detention, torture, cruel/inhuman and degrading treatment.

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