AGFCS seeks probe into allegations against police in Anambra
Action Group on Free Civic Space (AGFCS) has called for investigation into alleged illegal detention, extortion, kidnapping, torture, extra-judicial killings and organ harvesting by some police officers in Zone 13 Headquarters, Ukpo, and the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Awkuzu, Anambra State.
In a statement, yesterday, the group comprising about 60 civil society organisations (CSOs) described the allegations as appalling, an affront to the sanctity of human rights and dignity, undermining the fundamental principles of responsible policing and development of just societies for which the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) should be known.
The statement reads: “For about a week, social media have been buzzing with several allegations and testimonies against the same squad using the hashtags #anambrakillings, #arrestpatrickagbazue and #anambra.
“These allegations are severe and disturbing, reflecting the findings in the AGFCS joint-action research report ‘#ENDSARS: Police Brutality and Shrinking Civic Space in Nigeria’.”
The Guardian gathered that the research was carried out in the wake of the #EndSARS protests, with the spotlight on Anambra as the epicentre of rogue policing in Nigeria.
It added: “The protests went beyond the elite squad known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and extended to all-round highhandedness and police brutality meted out on citizens by law enforcement officers. Though SARS has been disbanded as a result of those protests, the brutality that they came to be known for is far from over. The allegations against several members of the NPF like the Akwuzu Command suggest that the reforms that were promised during the protests have not been implemented.”
While commending the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) for setting up a special investigative panel and Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s directive to the state’s Attorney General to call for and review all case files with allegations of human rights abuses handled by Police Zone 13 Headquarters, Ukpo, and the RRS, Awkuzu, AGFCS called on the NPF and the Anambra government to not let the matter be business as usual.
“Culpable officers must be made to face the full wrath of the law, if indicted. We call for the immediate suspension of all accused officers, pending the result of the investigations. We also call on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to set up an independent investigative panel to look into these atrocious allegations.
“Further, we call on the IGP and the NPF to grant full independence to the investigative panel to enable fair trial. CSOs should be allowed to monitor and document activities of the panel as part of efforts to ensure transparency. The reports of investigations must not be swept under the carpet. The government must also ensure victims get the justice that their situations deserve.”