Tuesday, December 1, 2020

AGF Malami exonerates 33 SARS officers indicted by human rights commission

The police may proceed to charge the officers nonetheless.

• November 8, 2020
Nigeria's Attorney General, Abubakar Malami
Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami [Photo Credit: The Guardian Nigeria]

Nigeria’s Attorney-General Abubakar Malami has exonerated 33 officers of the defunct SARS unit accused of wanton crimes and various forms of human rights infractions.

Mr. Malami’s office concluded that the 33 officers, who were recommended for prosecution by a presidential investigative panel chaired by NHRC chief Tony Ojukwu, had no case to answer due to lack of substantial proof against them, Punch reported citing a report from police sources.

The sources quoted the committee set up by Mr. Malami to review the panel’s allegations against the officers to have failed to conduct proper investigation.

“The report of the panel does not meet prosecutorial needs. No proper investigation was concluded in all the cases”, the attorney-general’s committee said in a report sighted by the newspaper.

The committee added that “admissible evidence such as exhibits, medical evidence, statements of the suspects and witnesses that can be used in court have not been obtained or recorded in the appropriate sheet from the suspects and witnesses by the appropriate investigation team.”

Punch also reported that police chief Mohammed Adamu has been directed to constitute a special jury to internally probe the accused officers who are still in service. 

Mr. Malami drew separate criticisms last week when he claimed the Lekki massacre involving Nigerian soldiers could have been carried out by thugs in military fatigues. He failed to provide any evidence to support his controversial assertion.

The brutal special anti-robbery squad of the Nigerian police was disbanded on the heels of renewed protests against the unrestrained cruelty of its operatives.

The NHRC presidential investigation panel ramped up its investigation across 13 states in the country with reported cases of human rights violations by roque officers of the outlawed police squad.

The rights office, which presented its report to the attorney-general on October 20, recommended prosecution of 33 SARS officers and 26 cases for further investigation.

While advocating compensation for victims of police brutality, the panel also recommended 32 cases for public apology.

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