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We’ve Given AGF, Others Evidence Against 33 Indicted SARS Officers —– National Human Rights Commission

Peter Okunoren

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The National Human Rights Commission says it has given the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and its 36 state counterparts sufficient materials to prosecute 33 operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad indicted in the last year’s report of a Presidential Investigative Panel.

The Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, said this while fielding questions from journalists at the headquarters of the commission in Abuja.

PorscheClassy News had on November 8, 2020, reported that the AGF office had declared that there was no sufficient evidence with which to prosecute the indicted cops.

The Presidential Panel led by Ojukwu had between 2018 and 2019 probed complaints of brutal activities of SARS and had submitted its report to the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) on June 3, 2019.

The report indicted a total of 35 police operatives in 12 states and the Federal Capital Territory for various rights violations including, extrajudicial killing, death in police custody, unlawful arrest, bias investigation, unlawful intimidation, harassment, criminal assault, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, a threat to life, extortion and confiscation of property.

The report recommended 33 for prosecution, and punishment including a reduction in rank and dismissal.

It also recommended 57 victims for an award of a total of about N249m in monetary compensation 35 for a public apology to be issued by the Nigerian police.

The NHRC on October 19, 2020, submitted the report to the AGF accompanied with a specific list of those recommended for prosecution.

Sunday PUNCH reported that a committee raised by the AGF, Mr. Abubakar Malami, to review the panel’s report had concluded that the report “does not meet prosecutorial needs” as it was said to be lacking in vital exhibits, such as “medical evidence and statements of the suspects and witnesses”.

The committee’s report also expressed concern that the indicted officers “still in the service ought to go through the internal police disciplinary measures to avoid prosecuting officers in uniform”.

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

Asked to react to the concerns of the AGF office about the report, Ojukwu said the two major issues raised had been addressed by the commission.

Ojukwu said, “The issues raised by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation as to why the prosecution seems difficult are:

“One, he said he has not received the original case files. Two, he said some of the police officers must be dismissed first by the Police Service Commission before they can prosecute them, of course, that is procedural.

“We have worked on those conditions. We have sent all the original case files, not only to him (the AGF), but to all the states, because the law says it is either the Attorney General of the Federation or the Attorney General of the states.

“There are about 13 states involved, and I can assure you that we have dispatched all the original case files to all the 13 states.

“Secondly, we have submitted the list of these officers, with other necessary documents to both the Police Service Commission and the Inspector General of Police.

“So, they need to do the needful. Moving forward, I expect that, once these internal procedures are tidied up, they should be able to do what they are supposed to do. This is because, as of today, we have sorted out these two obstacles identified by the AGF.”

Ojukwu lamented how poor funding had been hampering the ability of the NHRC to investigate rights violations in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.

He said the National Economic Council which directed states to inaugurate the commissions of inquiry to probe SARS brutality in the aftermath of #EndSARS protests had also directed the various state governments to set aside N200m “to pay for awards and compensation that may arise in all the states”.

He said the commission had similarly asked for N200m for its retired Justice Suleiman Galadima-led Independent Investigative Panel currently probing complaints of police brutality received from different parts of the country.

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Each Corps Member To Get N2m For Agriculture After Service Year —- NSPRI

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The Federal Government has said that it will empower members of the National Youth Service Corps that venture into agriculture after their one-year mandatory service with the sum of N2m.

The Executive Director, Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute, Dr. Patricia Pessu, disclosed this on Monday while speaking at a workshop on value addition of agricultural commodities for 40 corps members selected from the 16 local government areas of Kwara State.

Pessu said the two corps members, who completed their service in Oyo and Abia states respectively, had begun to benefit from the programme, stating that they were selected from the last batch of trainees at NSPRI.

He decried the increasing number of unemployed youth in the country and added that a similar opportunity awaited any trainee of the current batch who submitted a promising proposal at the end of the service year.

The NSPRI boss added that “to put things into context, Nigeria’s unemployed youth of 13.9 million is more than the population of Rwanda and several other African countries.

“This youth population is also about 64 percent of total unemployed Nigerians, suggesting that the most agile working-class population in the country remains unemployed.”

Declaring the workshop open, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muritala Olanrewaju, said the government had promised to consolidate commercial agriculture through the provision of adequate machinery to assist genuine farmers in advancing their productivity, profitability, and competitiveness.

Olarewaju disclosed that the state government was repositioning the agricultural sector from being a mass social service to a profitable agro-business aimed at providing technical and environmentally friendly agriculture practice.

Also, the NYSC State Coordinator, Mrs. Francisca Olaleye, commended the agency for the opportunity given to corps members and gave the assurance that the beneficiaries would justify the gesture.

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Fleeing Ex-Pension Boss Abdulrasheed Maina Arrested In Niger Republic

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Security agencies in Niger Republic have arrested the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, in that country.

A top security officer confirmed to newsmen that Maina was arrested by Nigerian Security agencies on Monday.

Maina, who is being prosecuted on 12 counts of money laundering to the tune of N2bn by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, jumped bail, forcing the trial judge, Justice Abang Okon, to issue a warrant for his arrest.

He was said to have stopped attending his trial since September 29, 2020, prompting Justice Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to order the remand of his surety, Senator Ali Ndume, last Monday.

The court, however, granted bail to the Borno South senator last Friday.

The EFCC had earlier informed the court that it had sought the assistance of the United States and Niger Republic for the arrest of Maina.

The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached for comment on Monday as calls to his phone rang out.

Also, the Commissioner of Police, Interpol National Bureau, Garba Umar, did not respond to calls seeking confirmation of the arrest.

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I Have Directed Armed Forces To Take The Fight To Insurgents ——- Buhari

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Monday, said he has directed the nation’s Armed Forces to take the anti-terrorism fight to the insurgents.

According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President disclosed this in a message he sent through his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, to the Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum; the Shehu of Borno and the Zabarmari community where 43 rice farmers were killed by insurgents on Saturday.

The statement was titled, ‘High powered government delegation visits Maiduguri, President Buhari vows to end terrorism’.

According to Shehu, the President, in his message, described the massacre as “senseless, barbaric and gruesome murder.”

He further quoted Buhari as giving assurances of his continuous commitment to fighting insurgency and all forms of insecurity in Borno State and all over Nigeria.

He said Buhari committed himself to making more resources available to the military to prosecute the war, adding that he will “work closely with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.”

According to the statement, the President said, “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of the people. Everything is secondary when security is at a stake.

“As we mourn the loss of our sons in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis until we root out the terrorists.”

The President also commended Zulum for his leadership in running the affairs of the state.

The presidential aide said apart from the message from the President, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, spoke for the government team to the state.

Zulum was also quoted as thanking the President for “ensuring relative peace since his assumption of office,” stating that the situation is better than he met it.

The statement added, “The governor presented a number of requests on behalf of his people, including that the youth of the state should be enlisted in military and paramilitary organisations to play their roles in the defence of the nation.

“He called on the Federal Government to assist in the repatriation of Borno indigenes in camps in neighbouring countries and requested the National Assembly to tweak the draft budget now before them to allow better allocation of resources for the North East sub-region, which he alleged is being side-lined.

“At the palace of the Shehu of Borno, His Eminence Abubakar Umar Ibn Garbai, the traditional ruler described as ‘madness,’ the gruesome killings and urged his subjects to pray and offer useful information to the security agencies.

“He thanked President Buhari for his efforts in returning normalcy to the state.”

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