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Over 30,400 Nigerians killed in SARS custody in 16 years: Report

Extra-judicial killings by SARS officers are in most cases fueled by a trio of hate, corrupt and crude or unprofessional policing, Intersociety said.

• October 26, 2020
Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu
Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu

A new report out on Monday has accused the outlawed police special anti-robbery squad of conducting more than 30,400 in extra-judicial killings around Nigeria since 2004.

The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law said in its analysis of extra-judicial killing of unprocessed detainees within the 16-year period showed how that SARS was responsible for the disappearance of thousands of Nigerians who were not legally arrested or tried before being executed in custody.

The report could complicate police’s claim that officers were frequently checked for extra-judicial violence and #EndSARS protesters were misinformed about cases of police brutality. SARS was disbanded on October 11 after nearly three decades of gruesome rights abuses and corruption.

The Onitsha-based civil rights think-tank said its examination of SARS activities showed at least 10 citizens were killed monthly per state in the years under review. 

“This further translates to 370 persons monthly and 4,440 yearly,” Intersociety said in its report sent to Peoples Gazette by its director Emeka Umeagbalasi. “In other words, Nigeria as a whole is most likely to have lost in the past sixteen years or since 2004 a total of 30,400 unprocessed citizens to police extrajudicial killings mainly perpetrated by its SARS.” 

The Force Headquarters declined the Gazette’s requests for comments on Intersociety’s allegations Monday morning.

Intersociety defines unprocessed detainees as citizens who were taken into custodies and pre-judicially accused of breaking the law and tortured to death or shot dead after they have been taken into custodies without undergoing full processes of arrest, investigation, prosecution, fair trial, conviction and sentencing. 

Until the police were forced to make changes amidst recent campaigns to end police brutality, Nigerian police officers had for decades exercised vast powers of life and death over detained citizens. 

Several reports published by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have exposed how SARS officers and other Nigerian security forces wantonly shot citizens dead despite being in handcuffs. Frequently, security forces claimed gunfire exchanges with the victims and labelled victims as armed robbers or worse. 

“Torture and extrajudicial killings by NPF personnel particularly its SARS are in most cases fueled by trio of hate, corrupt and crude or unprofessional policing,” Intersociety said.

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