A report on Monday, October 26, has accused the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of carrying out 30,400 extrajudicial killings of Nigerians since 2004.
The report was publicised by the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law.
The organisation revealed in its analysis of the extra-judicial killing of unprocessed detainees within the 16-year period that SARS was responsible for the disappearance of thousands of Nigerians who were not legally arrested or tried before being executed in custody.
As a result, this recent discovery could complicate police’s claim that officers were frequently checked for extra-judicial violence and #EndSARS protesters were misinformed about cases of police brutality.
The Onitsha-based civil rights think-tank said its examination of SARS activities showed at least 10 citizens were killed monthly per state in the years under review.
“This further translates to 370 persons monthly and 4,440 yearly,” Intersociety said in its report by its director Emeka Umeagbalasi.
“In other words, Nigeria as a whole is most likely to have lost in the past sixteen years or since 2004 a total of 30,400 unprocessed citizens to police extrajudicial killings mainly perpetrated by its SARS.”
Intersociety defines unprocessed detainees as citizens who were taken into custody; and pre-judicially accused of breaking the law and tortured to death; or shot dead after they have been taken into custody without undergoing full processes of arrest; investigation; prosecution; fair trial; conviction; and sentencing.
Until the police were forced to make changes amidst recent campaigns to end police brutality; Nigerian police officers had for decades exercised vast powers of life and death over detained citizens.
Several reports published by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have exposed how SARS officers; and other Nigerian security forces wantonly shot citizens dead despite being in handcuffs.
Frequently, security forces claimed gunfire exchanges with the victims; and labelled victims as armed robbers or worse.
“Torture and extrajudicial killings by NPF personnel particularly its SARS are in most cases fueled by trio of hate; corrupt and crude or unprofessional policing,” Intersociety said.