The Nigerian Police Force has been told to declare the number of detainees being held by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
This demand was made by a human rights group, Citizens Unite for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE-Nigeria) in a statement which was signed by its Executive Director, Mr. Sylvester Uhaa. The statement was made available to newsmen.
The group however, applauded Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for directing the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris to overhaul SARS; stressing that every detainee and waiting trials inmates in police cells and prison should be charged to court.
The statement reads, “The Acting President’s directive, although belated, is a welcome development and a right step in the reformation of the Police. SARS has been identified with human rights violation and abuse of power, which has overshadowed its good work.
“Although SARS has contributed tremendously to the fight against violent crimes and criminality, and to the maintenance of law and order, it has operated largely outside the law, earning a bad name for itself, the Nigeria Police Force, and Nigeria at large.
“The operations of any law enforcement must be guided by the law that created it, not by lawlessness, arbitrariness and disregard for human rights, which has guided SARS operations since its creation. And we cannot allow this to continue.
“But, we ask the Federal Government to take a step further to direct SARS to charge all suspects in their detention camps to court so that suspects can have access to justice and fair trial and this may lead to some gaining freedom, as some of the suspects may be innocent of the alleged offences.”
The group called on Federal Government to direct the IGP and all detaining authorities to declare the number of people in their detention so that Nigeria will know the number of people in their detention facilities.
“For now, we only know the number of people in prison, and this is not right. Suspects in police cells are left at the mercy of their captors and jailers, some of whom treat them like animals.
“Finally, we demand that the current administration make use of the recommendations made by Federal Government Committees on prison congestion in the past to decongest the prisons.
“The continued detention of people without trial for years in our police cells and prisons violates the basic fundamental human rights to fair trial, equality of all human beings under the law and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and international human rights law.”