Nigerians furious as AGF says lack of evidence stalling prosecution of 33 SARS operatives

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Nigerians have expressed disgust at Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN)’s claim that there was no sufficient evidence to prosecute the 33 personnel of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) indicted in last year’s report of a Presidential Investigative Panel.

The claim was contained in the report of a committee the AGF set up to review the individual cases recommended for prosecution by the special presidential panel.

Recall that the Presidential Panel led by the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu between 2018 and 2019 probed complaints of brutal activities of SARS and submitted its report to the President Muhammadu Buhari on June 3, 2019.

Thirty-five policemen in 12 states and the Federal Capital Territory were indicted for various rights violations including extrajudicial killing, death in police custody, unlawful arrest, biased investigation, unlawful intimidation, harassment, criminal assault, torture, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment, threat to life, extortion and confiscation of property, among others.

Out of the 35 the report indicted, 33 were recommended for prosecution, and punishment, including sanctions like reduction in rank and dismissal.

It also recommended that 57 victims be paid about N249m as compensation while the police should tender public apology to 35.

The Punch reported that the report was on October 19, 2020 submitted to the AGF along with a specific list of those recommended for prosecution.

However, the committee set up by the AGF to review the panel’s report said, “The report of the panel does not meet prosecutorial needs. No proper investigation was concluded in all the cases. Admissible evidence such as exhibits, medical evidence, statements of the suspects and witnesses that can be used in court have not been obtained or recorded in the appropriate sheet from the suspects and witnesses by the appropriate investigation team.”

It also asked the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu to set up “a special investigation team” to conduct “thorough investigation” into the cases.

But many Nigerians who took to Twitter to vent their frustration on Sunday described the AGF committee’s stance as an attempt to shield the erring policemen from prosecution.

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