President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Inspector-General of Police, the Ministry of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to work out modalities for the implementation of the report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) within three months.
A press release signed by the deputy director of information at the State House, Attah Esa, said Mr Buhari gave the directive on Monday while receiving the 2804-page report from the Panel headed by the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, at the State House.
The report of the panel is in four volumes. It has among other recommendations the dismissal of 37 police officers from the force and the prosecution of 24 officers.
"The panel also directed the IGP to unravel the identity of 22 officers involved in the violation of human rights of innocent citizens, while the police were directed to pay compensation of various sums in 45 complaints and tender public apologies in five complaints and to obey court orders in five matters.
"The Panel recommended the establishment of State and local government police and the renaming of SARS to Anti-Robbery Section (ARS), which was its original name, and to make the section operate under the intelligence arm of the Police.
"Responding, President Buhari said, inter alia:
"I am very happy with the work of the Panel and thank the Panel members for working hard towards the realisation of the Presidential Directive.
"I believe that the Report of the Panel and recommendations contained therein would go a long way in redressing the grievances of the complainants, ensure accountability on the part of the Police Officers in discharging their responsibilities and facilitate the various Police reforms being introduced by this administration.
"I want to assure you and all Nigerians that this Administration will continue to fulfil its obligations of promoting and protecting human rights of Nigerians, and will give the National Human Rights Commission all the support required to ensure full implementation of the recommendations contained in its Report.
"In addition, we will strengthen the operations of the Commission to enhance its effectiveness and capability to resolve cases of human rights violations.
"This administration is conscious of the role the Commission plays in ensuring security and stability in the nation through the resolution of complaints of human rights violations, which if neglected, could result into major security challenges.
"As you are aware, I have recently approved the reconstitution of the Governing Council of the Commission. The names of the Council members will be submitted to the National Assembly for confirmation before the inauguration of the Council in line with NHRC Act, 1995 (as amended).
"I want to thank the Panel once more, and hereby direct that since the recommendations of the Commission that constituted the Panel are enforceable as decisions of the Court, that the Inspector General of Police and the Solicitor General of the Federation/Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice meet with the Commission to work out the modalities for the implementation of the Report within 3 months from today."