Today I received the Report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). We constituted the Panel as a result of public outcry and various media reports on allegations of human rights violations perpetrated by officers and men of SARS.
The panel, whose membership was constituted by the National Human Rights Commission, was empowered to make recommendations on how to hold Police Officers found wanting accountable, and also, on how SARS and the larger Nigeria Police Force can be properly reformed.
In carrying out their statutory responsibilities, the Police must at all times act within the ambit of the law and must not violate the fundamental human rights of Nigerians whom they have sworn to protect.
Where the rights of Nigerians are violated by Police Officers while discharging their functions, we as the Government have a responsibility to address these instances of violation, and ensure that such Police Officers are held accountable for their actions.
I also recognize that we have a responsibility to improve the welfare of our Police Officers, as they daily put their lives on the line in order that the rest of us may freely go about our business in safety. Police Welfare remains one of the priorities of our administration.
I assure that we will balance these important responsibilities: improving the welfare and capacity of the Police while also ensuring that we keep them in check, protect the human rights of Nigerians, and ensure that offending officers are held fully accountable.
We will also strengthen the operations of the National Human Rights Commission to enhance its effectiveness and capability to resolve cases of human rights violations.
I thank the members of the SARS Reform Panel for their work, and have directed the Inspector General of Police and the Solicitor General of the Fed/Perm Sec, Justice to meet with the NHRC to work out the modalities for the implementation of the Report within 3 months from today.
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