Nigeria’s Senate to probe police brutality allegations

Louis Edet House, headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force seen in Abuja
Nigeria Police Force logo, on top of the Louis Edet House, headquarters of the police, seen in Abuja, Nigeria December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

December 5, 2017

LAGOS (Reuters) – Lawmakers in the upper house of Nigeria’s parliament voted on Tuesday to launch an investigation into alleged acts of brutality by a specialist unit of the police.

The move follows a social media campaign calling for the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to be scrapped. The campaign, which has gathered pace in the last few days, involves people sharing stories of alleged maltreatment by the unit’s officers.

Nigeria’s police force has been dogged by allegations of human rights abuses for years. It has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The Senate said lawmakers on a security committee would consider the claims about SARS.

“The committee has been mandated to look into allegations of human rights abuses raised by the general public, make relevant recommendations, and include it in its final report,” the Senate said in a statement posted on its official Twitter feed.

The inspector general, who heads the Nigeria Police Force, on Monday announced the immediate re-organization of SARS nationwide. He ordered an “investigation into all the allegations, complaints and infractions” leveled against the unit.

Ibrahim Idris, the police chief, also said the division was responsible for a “drastic reduction” in armed robberies, kidnappings and cattle rustling nationwide.

(Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos and Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Editing by Hugh Lawson)