Nigeria is not doing enough to rein in and prosecute members of a notorious special anti-robbery police unit (SARS) accused of rights abuses, Amnesty International said Tuesday.
Although the operations of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) were suspended on Sunday along with other police units that mount roadblocks and carry out stop-and-search operations, the rights group said the government had not gone far enough.
“This is yet another lame attempt to rein in this unit of the Nigerian police which is notorious for the widespread torture and other ill-treatment of Nigerians,” said Osai Ojigho, Amnesty’s Nigeria director, in a statement.
There has been growing anger in recent months on social media over the unit’s activities. Amnesty was unimpressed by Sunday’s statement from police Inspector-General Muhammed Adamu, who blamed “a few personnel” in the unit for abuses.
The rights group said previous attempts to ban the force were unsuccessful, and there have been multiple pledges to reform the squad and investigate allegations.
“We have seen from bitter experience that past investigations into violations were either never carried out or marred by irregularities,” said Ojigho.
The findings of a 2018 judicial commission of enquiry into FSARS have never been made public, Amnesty said.
“Unless the authorities follow through with their promises to reform SARS and end the frequent extortion and ill-treatment of Nigerians, their empty words will be just that,” said Ojigho.