The Lagos State Police Command has begun an audit of different cells at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) with a view to check human rights abuses. The audit is not unconnected with the reports received by the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, on human rights abuses in some police stations and SARS in particular. Some human rights groups had protested to the I-G over the abuses. Sources told NAN that the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, following the report, began a tour of SARS cells before the Eid-el Fitr celebration. The inspection, which is continuing is for him to have a first-hand assessment of the cells and suspects detained. “The I-G got reports from human rights abuses against some police stations and SARS in particular. The officers in charge were therefore directed to get statistics of suspects in their cells. “In Lagos State, the commissioner wants to know the number of suspects in all the cells. He wants to know when the suspects were arrested, why they were arrested and who are investigating the cases. “The commissioner also wanted to know how far investigations have gone and how many cases have been concluded and ready to be charged to court,” a competent police source said. Another source, however, noted that there was no big deal in auditing the cells, noting that as senior police officers in charge of stations, they must check the condition of suspects daily. The source said that auditing the SARS cells was not a surprise, stressing that the I-G was known as ‘Mr Human Rights’ while at the Lagos State CID, Panti.
“If there are complaints of human rights abuses against any station, be rest assured that the I-G will clear up such a mess,” the police source said. But the state command’s spokesman, DSP Kenneth Nwosu, said the commissioner only toured the cells to see their state and those of suspects in them. Nwosu said that the CP was only carrying out a routine exercise, noting that there was nothing about audit of suspects in the cells. NAN recalls that the Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, had on Tuesday in Abuja said that the Nigeria Police Force had paid over N1 billion to Nigerians whose rights were trampled upon by officers in the last three years. According to him, Force Order 237 on the use of force by the police has come under increasing local and international criticisms. He said these criticisms had formed the basis of court cases against the Nigerian Police Force. The I-G, who said officers must be adequately trained, briefed and held accountable for their decision on the use of force. Arase also said that his office, in collaboration with international stakeholders, had commenced the move to realign the order in line with global trends. He spoke during the opening ceremony of a three-day training workshop organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The workshop has the theme, “The Challenge of Policing in an Emerging Democracy: Entrenching Human Rights-based Approaches to Use Force and Firearms by Nigeria Police Officers.”