President Muhammadu Buhari warned that continued violation of human rights could bring the country into chaos. He said this when he received the report of the presidential panel on the reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian Police Force that has gained notoriety for committing atrocious offenses against Nigerian citizens.
Buhari said the National Human Rights Commission was empowered to constitute the panel to “investigate the various public outcries and media reports alleging human rights violations against citizens.”
The key takeaway: Buhari is aware of the consequences 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.”President Muhammadu Buhari
But — it appears that the President is selectively applying this lesson. One key case in point is the continued and illegal detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (a Shia sect), Sheikh El-Zakzaky by the administration. Many, including prominent Sunni Islamic clerics have warned that the continued detention of El-Zakzaky portends a grave security threat.
President Buhari should give attention to his words and heed them.
Key recommendations of the report by the panel: Besides the dismissal of a number of Police officers (37), including prosecution of some of them, and compensations and public apologies to victims of SARS, the panel also recommended the following operational reforms, which President Buhari has ordered the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General of the Federation to resolve and implement:
- Establishment of State and Local Government police
- Renaming of SARS to Anti-Robbery Section (ARS), which would now operate under the intelligence arm of the Police