Amnesty International has accused the police special anti-robbery squad (SARS) of torturing and killing people on at least 82 occasions since January, 2017.
In a new report shared with TheCable on Thursday, the international rights watchdog alleged that SARS uses torture and ill-treatment “to execute, punish and extract information” from suspects, some of whom it said end up dead.
Over the years, SARS has been notorious for alleged violation of human rights in the course of its operations which often leave a trail of dead bodies.
Amid campaigns to scrap the police unit, the police have on at least two occasions said it has reformed the unit — but reports of human rights violations persist.
AI accused police authorities of failing to address the abuse, saying no SARS official has been prosecuted. TheCable contacted Frank Mba, police spokesman, to confirm or deny this, but he has not responded yet.
The watchdog said SARS’ “horrific violations were carried out under the supervision of high-ranking police officers”.
“The systemic use of torture and other ill treatment by SARS officers for police investigations and the continued existence of torture chambers within the Nigerian Police Force points to an absolute disregard for international human rights laws and standards,” the organisation said.
“In many cases, Amnesty International bore witness to the scars, bruises, and dried blood on victims’ bodies. Many of them were subjected to beatings with sticks and machetes and denied medical care.
“The victims of the police unit, set up to fight violent crimes, are predominantly male between the ages of 18 and 35, from low-income backgrounds and vulnerable groups.”
Osai Ojigho, AI country director, said: “The complete failure of Nigerian authorities to bring an end to the gross human rights violations perpetuated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad or to bring any SARS officer to justice is shocking and unacceptable.”
AI recounted the case of one Miracle who, in March 2017, was reportedly arrested and detained by SARS officers in Neni, Anambra state, after being accused of stealing a laptop.