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LEDAP Calls on FG to Implement Recommendations of Presidential Panel on SARS

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) has urged the Nigerian government to fully implement the recommendations of the Presidential Panel on Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) as an actionable step toward promoting justice and support for victims of torture.

The organisation also urged the government to grant necessary support for the panel to fulfil its mandate and submit its report before the expiration of this administration.

According to the body, the implementation will guarantee maximum utilisation of resources invested so far and consequently, encourage continuity by the next administration.

LEDAP gave this urge in a statement in commemoration of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

The statement signed by its National Coordinator, Chino Obiagwu, (SAN), LEDAP said the use of torture, cruel and degrading treatment, including extrajudicial killings by law enforcement officials in Nigeria, is rife, despite the fact that a chunk of these incidents goes unreported, credible evidence abound to show the degree and nature of torture state actors perpetrate against victims.

Recalled that before the 2020 #EndSARS protest that led to the unfortunate Lekki toll gate massacre, the National Human Rights Commission led an investigative panel on the Reformation of SARS.

LEDAP said: “The panel, which was set up to make inquiries into the alleged use of torture by officers of the now-defunct SARS Unit of the Nigeria Police Force, concluded investigations and submitted their report to President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2019.

“The President urged the Ministry of Justice to within three months, work out the modalities for the implementation of the report. A few of the recommendations made by the Panel include the improvement of the welfare of police officers, the strengthening of internal mechanisms of the unit, and the dismissal and prosecution of culpable police officers.”

The organisation noted that as part of the implementation efforts of the government, the panel’s recommendation to rename SARS was implemented, but details of the full implementation status of this report remain hazy till date.

“To investigate allegations of human rights violations by the police, another Presidential Panel on SARS was inaugurated shortly before the ill-fated October 20, 2020. The panel, which faced funding challenges has managed to conclude public hearings in select zones, but is yet to submit a report,” LEDAP said.

The non-profit organisation commends the positive steps the current administration has taken to tackle torture, specifically the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act; which is yet to ground any prosecution and the establishment of the various panels on SARS.

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, LEDAP called on all stakeholders to advocate against the use of torture by law enforcement officials and unite in the fight against the culture of impunity.

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