Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said that the report of the Federal Government’s probe panel on allegations of human rights abuses against the Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force is ready.
This came just as the Commission said that it had commenced investigation into allegations of rape of young women arrested by the Police during a recent raid at a night club in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Speaking at a two-day strategy workshop on finding better ways of promoting human rights in Nigeria jointly organised by two Catholic groups, CARITAS Nigeria and MISEREOR of Germany, the Director of the Department Women, Children and Vulnerable Groups, Mr. Harry Obe, said the commission’s report on the alleged human rights abuses by the police anti robbery squad was ready and will be submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The issue of abuses by the police anti crime team popularly known as SARS has generated public outcry especially with the recent case of the shooting of a young man in Lagos by one of the SARS operatives.
Obe said the commission had waded into the alleged human rights violations by the police and had concluded its report based on petitions before it.
“You are aware that the commission recently conducted public enquiry into the activities of SARS and that report is ready and I think it will be presented to goverment either this week or next. The report made far-reaching recommendations on the way forward,” he said.
On the Commission’s move to investigate the alleged rape and human rights abuse by the police during a raid on a night club in Abuja, he said that the Director of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) had been invited to appear before it to explain what happened.
“The Commission invited the head of AEPB, to appear before the commission on Monday over allegations of human rights abuses resulting from a raid that was conducted at a night club in Abuja but the meeting couldn’t hold Monday because the the head of AEPB wrote the commission saying he had a pre-scheduled council meeting, asking for rescheduling to another date.
So it was rescheduled for today (Thursday),” he said.
He said that one key issue that led to the commission’s decision to probe the incident was the allegation of rape and ill-treatment meted out to the young women arrested during the raid at the night club.
Obe said the commission hopes to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the claim of rape and manhandling of the victims after its investigation.
He said that as far as NHRC was concerned such raids by security agencies must be carried with full respect for law and human rights.
In his welcome address, the Director of CARITAS Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Obiechina, lamented that Nigeria was still very far from reaching the acceptable standards on human rights protection.
Obiechina who x-rayed the concept of human right in the society said human rights protection had been very turbulent, adding that the Catholic Church is the vanguard of ensuring that appropriate action is taken to improve on human rights compliance in the country.
The representative of MISEREOR, Andreas Kella, said the group had been involved in the promotion of human rights protection in the country, including efforts at prison decongestion and criminal justice reforms.