Senator Isah Misau says the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is also been used to intimidate politicians and political opponents.
Speaking on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, Misau said by creation, SARS was supposed to be under the Force Criminal and Investigation Department (CID) and not under Operations.
The lawmaker called on the Senate to investigate the allegation of human rights abuse on Nigerians by SARS personnel.
His words: "According to the police act and regulations, the force criminal and investigation and intelligence (Force CID), is the highest investigating arm of the Nigerian police. And for effective and efficient administration, the department is divided into 14 sections for which the Special Ant-robbery Squad (SARS) is one of them.
“SARS is supposed to be a section in each state command criminal investigation department with sole responsibility of handling armed robbery cases and answerable to the state commissioner of Police.
“I have in the last few months received several petitions from my constituency against SARS. The complains vary from extra-judicial killings, brutality, torture, arrest for bribe and other menacing conduct by the men of the unit.
“Most of the tweets with #EndSARS reported several cases of harassment, and arbitrary arrest of Nigerian youths labelling them .
“The complains have ranged from how officers waylaid citizens at ATM points to how they often threaten to kill knowing they will get away with it. There are specific cases of how SARS officers allegedly murder citizens for declining to pay bribes.
“It is dangerous for us to have a unit of the police force act as if it is above the law. We must now make a major decision to end SARS until a unit built around the rule of law and human rights observance is created by the police.
“I’m aware that in 2015, the then IGP, Solomon Arase had due to incessant reports of abuses by the squad split SARS into two units with a view to checking its human rights abuses. This was done to ensure that officers don’t make arrest and investigate the same case. However, the abuses have continued.
“The Police High Command had earlier said that it has no intention to scrap the squad and contrary to claims. Rather than to take note of complains by the general public, and proceed to investigate and take actions against these human rights’ abuses, they only make matters worse by calling these campaigners criminals.
“I urge this Senate to mandate the committee the ad hoc committee on security to investigate the allegations of human rights abuse by SARS.
"SARS is used to intimidate opponents and sometimes politicians. Sometimes you find that the Federal SARS going to state and arrest people without making reference to the Commissioner of Police, they bring them to Abuja and detain them.
“Mr President if we don't put SARS where it belongs, then we’re all in trouble. We have to do something about SARS. SARS, shouldn't be under the operations department, it is supposed to be under investigation," he said.
In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki referred the matter to the ad-hoc committee set up to look at the security infrastructure in the country.
“We have already set up an ad-hoc committee to look at the security infrastructure in the country and I think it’s appropriate that we send these recommendations to them for further consideration,” Saraki said.
“The Inspector General of Police himself is reviewing the structure and I think it is clear that there is something wrong going on that needs urgent attention. I advise the Committee on security to take action to quickly find a solution to this problem because it is happening all around our constituencies and we must respond to the needs of our people,” the Senate President said.