The Presidential Panel on the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) Reforms for the North Central Zone has received 27 complaints and will hold public sitting on the complaints from October 22 to October 25.
The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu, said this on Monday in Abuja in his welcome remarks at the commencement of the panel’s public sitting.
According to Mr Ojukwu, the essence is “to increase access to the services of the commission.
“And to seek accountability where there is evidence to indicate that officers or officials of SARS have been involved in acts amounting to human rights violation in the course of carrying out their law enforcement duties.
“Also, to provide opportunities for fair hearing to both complainants and alleged violators and to main stream human rights norms and tenets into the operations and administration of SARS in line with global best practices.’’
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo had, in August, requested the NHRC to constitute the panel to hear and investigate complaints against SARS and to make recommendations.
Mr Ojukwu said the specific terms of reference of the panel are: “To investigate the veracity of allegations of human rights abuses and abuse of power made against SARS within the last two years.
“To independently review and render advice on any value added by SARS, from a public safety and security perspective, and make recommendations to government.’’
In his goodwill message, Benjamin Okolo, a deputy supereintendent of police, representing the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris, said the police would co-operate with the panel and abide by the outcome.
“We have already started some reforms and we believe that the outcome of this panel will equally enhance what we are doing.’’Mr Okolo assured the panel that nobody would be victimised, intimidated or harassed for airing their views or submitting complaints.
For his part, Idris Bawa of the Nigeria Policing Program (NPP) said the public hearing would add value to reforms in the Police Force.
In his keynote address, Akingbolahan Adeniran, from the presidency said the public hearing would enhance all aspects of community policing for better performance.
According to him, the aim is to adequately regulate activities of the police and efficiently direct intelligence gathering.
“We expect the police to appear more as an intelligent driven organisation and work has already started in this area; very soon the police will be more proactive,’’ Mr Adeniran said.