Following the death of a man, Kolade Johnson, who was allegedly shot dead by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the Amnesty International has urged the federal government to take necessary steps in curbing horrific torture inflicted on Nigerians.
Reports say Johnson was shot dead in Mangoro/Onipetesi Comunity on Sunday afternoon by police from the Anri-Cultism Unit (SARS) of Lagos State Command.
Amnesty International, in a statement of on its Twitter handle, noted that SARS which is saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and property has become a threat to the society.
The statement reads: “Many attempts to reform SARS, including the one ordered by Prof Osinbajo in August last year have been ineffective. Nigerians are still brutalized by SARS. Restructuring SARS is not enough unless the government takes concrete steps to protect Nigerians.
“Our research since 2016 uncovered a pattern of ruthless human rights violations by SARS, where victims are arrested and tortured until they either make a ‘confession’ or pay officers a bribe to be released. Apart from brutality, some police officers in SARS regularly demand bribes, steal and extort money from criminal suspects and their families. SARS officers are getting rich through their brutality. In Nigeria, it seems that torture is a lucrative business.
“Apart from demanding bribes, SARS officers have been accused of stealing or confiscating property from relatives of detained suspects. Some family members told Amnesty International that SARS officers stole their cars or withdrew all the money from their bank accounts.
“The majority of the victims of torture in SARS custody are poor and unable to hire legal representatives. In some cases when detainees cannot afford to pay bribes, they are simply tortured more. Despite repeated calls from Amnesty International in recent years, the Nigerian justice system has failed to prevent or punish torture. Despite Buhari signing into law, the Anti-Torture Bill Police torture Nigerians with impunity.
“In Nigeria Police being posted to SARS is often regarded as a “juicy” posting and is preceded by intense lobbying by potential officers. Officers sometimes pay superior officers responsible for transfers as much as N300,000 to influence their posting to SARS.
“Despite years of numerous petitions from Nigerian and international human rights organizations to the police authorities, there is no indication that any SARS officers have been punished specifically for torturing detainees or extrajudicial killings. “