Richard Ginika Izuora
Governor of Lagos State Babajide Sanwo-Olu-Olu on Sunday, October 4, said that the state will “speedily” take “appropriate actions” to address increasing Police brutality in the state.
Sanwo-Olu, took the decision following a viral video on social media on Saturday showing members of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police forcing a young man into a car.
The car drove off after the man was forced to sit at the back of the car by the Policemen who wore mufti.
Narrating the chain of events, a Twitter user, @yourmydad, who claimed to be the victim of the harassment; said the incident happened on 25th September when he and his friend were going to Yaba to pick up some items.
“When our Uber got stopped by men without uniforms who claimed to be SARS officers; I refused to open the doors because they had no ID,” he said in a Twitter thread on Saturday.
He likewise said the unidentified Police officers demanded N1 million bribe from him and his friend; and also threatened to kill him if he raised alarm.
He said N100,000 was extorted from him before they were allowed to go.
“The seemingly unlawful exploitation by the people charged to protect is very worrying & needs to be addressed immediately,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Police brutality is rife in Nigeria, with the country’s young population usually the target of extortion, torture and, sometimes, murder.
Amnesty International in two reports published in 2016 and 2020 said SARS used torture to extract information from suspects.
People arrested by SARS “are subjected to various methods of torture; ill-treatment in order to extract information as well as ‘confessions’.
“Such methods include severe beating; hanging; starvation; shooting in the legs; mock executions; and also threats of execution,” Amnesty International said in the 2016 report.
It said in the report published in June that “many SARS stations use designated ‘torture chambers’; special interrogation rooms commonly used for torturing suspects.”
Meanwhile, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, on Saturday, October 3, urged the Federal Government to institute a comprehensive review of the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit of the Nigerian Police in order to sanitise the system.
Atiku made this appeal via a tweet on his verified Twitter handle.
He noted that the Police unit which was set up to confront violent crimes such as armed robbery; kidnapping; as well as other related crimes had grown into an oppressor of ordinary Nigerians
Atiku said in the tweet, “The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigerian Police was set up to confront violent crimes such as armed robbery; kidnapping; and other related crimes
“However, the unit has today morphed into an oppressor of the Nigerian masses who strive every day for a better life.
“Reports of intimidation; harassment; as well as outright extortion by officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad have continued unabated.
!I strongly condemn their cruel actions against our people; and I also urge the government to rise to the occasion; as well as nip this monstrosity in the bud with the seriousness it deserves.
“It’s expedient that the activities of SARS are reviewed to ensure that the rogue elements are excised from the unit and sanity returned to its operations.”