News AnglePress release

Falz’s father, Femi Falana (SAN), releases a statement for the abolition of SARS

When it comes to advocating for human rights, the Falanas have our back all the time.

As Falz hits the road with the rest of Nigerian Youths, his father fights with legal backing under ASCAB

See statement released below.

This will definitely be useful info in our historical books as we move forward

ASCAB SOLIDARISES WITH AGGRIEVED CITIZENS CALLING FOR THE ABOLITION OF SARS

ASCAB has carefully studied the reactions of the authorities to the nationwide protests of concerned citizens against the brazen impunity of the operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS). While President Buhari has directed the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu to embark on the reform of the SARS the Nigeria Governors Forum has condemned the abuse of the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people by the security outfit. ASCAB is not unaware of the fact that the Inspector General of Police has announced some measures towards the reform of the SARS. But since similar measures did not end the SARS excesses in the recent past ASCAB is convinced that the knee jerk reactions of the authorities cannot end the institutionalised atrocities perpetrated by the SARS and other security agencies. Therefore, ASCAB is compelled to call on the President, the 36 State Governors, Attorney General of the Federation and State Attorneys-General as well as the Inspector-General of Police to address the challenge of mounting insecurity in the country by addressing the following issues:

  1. THE PRESIDENCY

Following public outcry in 2018 against the indiscriminate arrests and detention, extortion and extrajudicial killings as well as other horrendous human rights abuse of the Nigerian people perpetrated by the operatives of the SARS the Federal Government responded by setting up a Presidential Panel of Enquiry to investigate all complaints of human rights abuse. It is on record that many Nigerians submitted reports and memoranda and gave clear evidence of police abuse. But that the Federal Government has not implemented the recommendations of the
Panel after two years of the submission of its Report. Some of the recommendations of the Panel are:

i. Dismissal of 37 police officers from the force and the prosecution of 24 others;

ii. Investigation of 22 officers involved in the violation of human rights of innocent citizens;

iii. Payment of compensation of various sums in 45 complaints and tender of public apologies in five complaints and compliance with court orders in five matters.

iv. Renaming of SARS to Anti-Robbery Section (ARS), which was its original name, and to make the section operate under the intelligence arm of the Police.

On June 3, 2019, the President directed the Inspector-General of Police and the Solicitor-General of the Federation/Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice to liaise with the National Human Rights Commission “to work out the modalities for the implementation of the Report within 3 months.’’

The President announced that he had approved the reconstitution of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission and that the names of the Council members would be submitted to the Senate for confirmation in line with the provisions of the National Human Rights Commission Act.

In view of the concern recently expressed by both President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo about the allegations of human rights violations routinely committed by the operatives of SARS the Federal Government must walk its talk by implementing the recommendations of the Presidential Panel on SARS reform. Furthermore, the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission should be reconstituted by the President without any further delay.

  1. DUTY OF 36 STATE GOVERNORS TO JOINTLY EXERCISE POLICE POWERS WITH THE PRESIDENT
  2. The Nigeria Police Council established under section 153 of the Constitution is constituted by the President, Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Inspector General of Police and the 36 State Governors. The functions of the Council include the organisation, administration and supervision of the Nigeria Police Force. But for some inexplicable reasons, State Governors have allowed the President to singlehandedly control and supervise the Nigeria Police Force.
  3. Since the Police Act 2020 has directed the Council to meet at least two times in a year ASCAB calls on State Governors to ensure that the Council meets regularly to address the increasing wave of insecurity in the country. In addition, the Council should henceforth organise, administer and supervise the Nigeria Police Force.
  4. Armed robbery, kidnapping and murder or culpable homicide are state offences. Every state has a security council chaired by the Governor. The Commissioner of Police and heads of other security agencies in the state are members of the security council.
  5. The operations of the anti-robbery squads set up by the Nigeria Police Force are largely funded by state governments. The Attorney-General of each state is required by law to give legal advice in respect of criminal cases that have been investigated by the Police and file charges against criminal suspects when there is prima facie evidence that they have committed criminal offences.

It is regrettable to note that State Governments have failed to supervise the Police and other security agencies operating in their jurisdiction. ASCAB is compelled to suggest as follows:

i. As Chief Security Officers of the states, Governors should henceforth supervise and curb the excesses of the police and other security personnel operating in all the States of the Federation.

ii. Attorneys-General of the States should monitor the investigation of criminal cases and ensure the prosecution of all indicted criminal suspects.

iii. The Office of the Public Defender in each State should be adequately funded to take up cases of human rights violations and provide legal services for indigent and vulnerable citizens.

  1. DUTY OF ATTORNEY-GENERAL TO PROSECUTE MILITARY OFFICERS INVOLVED IN TERRORIST ATTACKS

i. The Attorney-General of the Federation should carry out his duty prescribed by section 12 of the Anti Torture Act of 2017 by making rules and regulation for the effective implementation of the Act including the training and education of personnel involved in the custody,
interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment.

ii. The military personnel who freed an arrested kidnap suspect in Taraba State last year and executed three policemen on duty should be prosecuted in line with the order of the Federal High Court.

iii. Similarly, the soldiers who recently killed Terwase Akwaza (widely known as Gana) on his way to Makurdi to formally accept amnesty from the Governor of Benue should be arrested and prosecuted by the Attorney-General for terrorist attacks.

iv. The Attorney General should ensure the immediate payment of damages awarded against the Police for human rights violations.

  1. DUTY OF INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF POLICE TO ENSURE THAT THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF CITIZENS ARE RESPECTED BY POLICE OFFICERS

The 1999 Constitution, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, the Anti Torture Act, 2017 and the Police Act, 2020 have imposed a duty on the Nigeria Police Force to respect the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people.

The Inspector General of Police should ensure that the relevant provisions of the above mentioned laws are reproduced and distributed to all police personnel. In particular, the attention of every police officer must be drawn to the following:

i. Every suspect is entitled to legal representation in every police station. The National Human Rights Commission shall be contacted to provide legal practitioners to indigent suspects.

ii. Arresting innocent citizens in lieu of criminal suspects has been banned. Arresting citizens for civil wrongs has also been prohibited.

iii. Confessional statements of criminal suspects shall be video recorded to stop the police from subjecting them to torture or inducement or threat during investigation.

iv. For the avoidance of doubt, the Anti Torture Act has criminalized the infliction of torture on criminal suspects and other citizens.

v. The Nigeria Police Force must ensure the payment of monetary damages awarded by courts to compensate citizens whose human rights have been violated by police personnel. Such violators of human rights should be made part of the damages.

vi. The Police should put an end to the parade of lowly placed criminal suspects since public officers alleged to have stolen billions of Naira are never paraded by the anti graft agencies.

vii. Extrajudicial killing of criminal suspects by the Police should stop since they are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved in the court by the State.

viii. Money and properties of criminal suspects should not be seized by the Police without orders made by competent courts.

CONCLUSION

Since Nigerians are entitled to the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly guaranteed by sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution and articles 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, ASCAB calls on the Authorities of the Nigeria Police Force to provide adequate security for the aggrieved members of the public who are demanding for the abolition of the SARS through peaceful marches, meetings and rallies. While expressing solidarity with the protesters ASCAB has directed its Legal and Political Committee headed by Dr. Osagie Obayuwana to provide pro bono legal services for all those who are arrested, detained or charged with any offence whatsoever for taking part in the ongoing protests.

Femi Falana SAN

Interim Chairman
Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB)

11th October, 2020

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