The National Human Rights Commission has commended the Federal Government for promptly dissolving the Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), an action it said showed the quality of a listening government.
The commission spoke in reaction to an announcement on Sunday by the Inspector General of a Police, Mohammed Adamu, dissolving the special squad.
According to a statement by Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, on Sunday in Abuja, the NHRC had been monitoring reports from individual victims and the media with respect to human rights violation of innocent members of the public by SARS operatives as well as other police units across the country.
He said that the commission is equally aware of the public outcry to scrap SARS so as to put an end to these violations, revealing that the Federal government, by its action, had demonstrated its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights of Nigerians.
“The right to protest is a constitutionally protected right as long as it is carried out responsibly and without resulting in the violation of the rights of any member of the public, including law enforcement personnel.”
He said with the dissolution of SARS, as recommended by the Presidential Panel, the stage is now set to implement the other recommendations of the panel.
He added in this regard, the government had requested the Commission to constitute a broad-based implementation committee, inclusive of relevant government agencies and civil society organizations.
According to Ojukwu, this is to ensure the transparent, comprehensive and accountable implementation of the white paper on the presidential panel report.
The Commission assures Nigerians that the federal government is wholly committed to protecting the human rights of all Nigerians in accordance with the 1999 Constitution as amended, Nigeria’s international human rights obligations and respect for the rule of law.
“Nigerians should appreciate the critical role being played by the Nigerian police and Special Anti-Robbery Squad in bursting armed robbery and other heinous crimes in the country even at the risk of their personal safety and some of them have paid the supreme sacrifice too.
“However, law enforcement must be carried out bearing in mind constitutional guarantees of human rights, including respect for the life and dignity of the human person and with utmost professionalism,” he said.
Consequently, he said, the SARS/police officers tarnishing the image of the government and the police force should be made to be accountable.
Ojukwu pledged that the Commission is committed to working with all stakeholders, state and non-state actors to raise the bar of human rights protection and enforcement in the country.
He urged Nigerians, including the protesters, to be more vigilant, law abiding and give the ongoing process a chance to resolve all the current issues.