By Charly Agwam – Bauchi
Following the setting up of Panel of Inquiry by Governor Bala Mohammed to investigate human rights abuses by the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) in Bauchi state, human rights organizations have lamented the exclusion of petitions levelled against another police unit, Rapid Response Squad (RRS) which is alleged to have brutalized residents and committed several other human rights violations in the state.
In a letter addressed to governor and shared with Vanguard at the weekend, Prison Inmate Development Initiative (PIDI-NIGERIA) in collaboration with Cleen Foundation, and Network on Police Reform In Nigeria lamented the exclusion of RRS activities in the committee’s investigation.
Writing on behalf of the human rights groups, Managing Director of PIDI-NIGERIA, Mbami Iliya said that the governor omitted the investigation of RRS activities in the terms of reference given to the investigative panel despite their alleged notorious activities in the state.
“On 27 October, 2020, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed setup a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate human rights abuses by the police, most especially the activities of the special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“Over the years, investigation have showed that police brutality in Bauchi State by Rapid Response Squad and other units of the Police in Bauchi include beating, intimidation, extortion and extra judicial killing of suspects. With reference to our claims on the 19th august 2020; PIDI-Nigeria drew your attention through a letter titled: “Re-emergency: a letter of demand and a complaint against SP Baba Yola of the Rapid Respond Squad over harassment, intimidation and inhumane treatment meted on petty traders at Awala roundabout of Bauchi state”.
“Your Excellency, the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria police force is not pronounced in Bauchi State as such. However, if truly Bauchi State government is willing to seek justice for the downtrodden citizens whom have been victims of police brutality in the state, the government should include other units of the police for investigation.
“Finally, we suggest that right civil society organizations that have been advocating for police reform in Bauchi state should be part of the Committee for effective implementation and monitoring,” the letter reads.