Amnesty International, a global human rights advocacy organization, has revealed that many victims and survivors of abuse by the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, including those who gave testimony before judicial panels established by state governments to address cases of police brutality and human rights violations, have not yet received justice.
The rights organization claimed that despite panel decisions and pledges from the government to pay the victims, this continued to occur.
In a report to track the effectiveness of the Anti-Torture Act of 2017, Amnesty said, “Many victims and survivors including those who testified at the #EndSars judicial panels are yet to receive the justice they deserved, despite the conclusion of the work of panels and government’s promise to implement the recommendations.”
Numerous young people in Nigeria protested in the streets in October 2020 to call for an end to police brutality, harassment, and poor governance, as well as extrajudicial killings by SARS agents.
Security personnel allegedly opened fire on the demonstrators at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos State on October 20, 2020, when the demonstration was at its height.
Amnesty criticized the government’s lack of sincerity in its fight against brutality and pointed out that it had continued to gather reliable accounts of torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment by security forces like the police, military, and State Security Services.
Osai Ojigho, the director of Amnesty International Nigeria, claimed that the government’s refusal to implement the law gave torturers more influence.
“It is worrisome that the Anti-Torture Act is yet to find its footing in Nigeria as the pervasive use of torture shows, enacting a law that criminalises torture, whilst turning a blind eye on acts of torture empowers the perpetrators while silencing the victims. It appears the Anti-Torture Act exists only on paper,” he said.
He added that the 2020 #EndSARS protest served as a reminder to the administration to put an end to torture and guarantee the victims’ rights.
A few young people who had been detained in connection with the #ENDSARS protest since 2020 had not yet been released.
According to a source who did not want to be named, roughly 10 youngsters who were detained in Oyo State since 2020 are still there and are being tried in court.
According to a person who went by the name Banwo and participated in the Lagos Lekki #ENDSARS protest, up to four more people are still being held at the Kikiri Correctional Center.
The inmates’ first hearing was held on Friday, June 24, 2022, and Banwo, who was there, claimed that because of the detainees’ poor legal representation, they had been held continuously since 2021.
“Ismail Muftao is the only one detained in Kirikiri maximum prison while three others are in medium prison. They were arrested two days after the #EndSARS massacre at different locations. Sodiq Sulaimon and Yahaya Mustapha were arrested at the ijora. Ismail muftao was arrested in Ikorodu in his residence by some All Progressives Congress thugs.
“He was beaten and macheted. He was detained without treatment and access to family and lawyers. Ismail also said a Supol Yemi tortured him and wrote a statement on his behalf.
“Daniel Joyibo was arrested at Wilmot Point Road, Victoria Island 106104, Lagos road, on his way to the harbour point where he works as a gardener. They all haven’t been to court since December 17, 2021, until today June 24, 2022, whereby the case was postponed to September 30,” Banwo said.
Further inquiries with the court officials, he claimed, found that although the prison had been offered dates after December 17, last year, it had failed to bring the defendants to court because of “orders from above.”
He added that the judiciary’s yearly vacation, which runs from July 25 to September 16, was the cause of the lengthy adjournment.
The detainees complained about the cramped sleeping quarters and malnutrition, claiming, saying, “they have to do hard labour for other rich prisoners in the yard to make money to buy food in detention.”