First witness at a Nigerian inquiry into police brutality described horror of torture
London, Oct. 27, 2020 (AltAfrica)-The first witness at a Nigerian inquiry into police brutality has described how he was tortured and had teeth extracted by members of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars).
He was the first person to testify in front a panel that has been set up to investigate human rights abuses carried out by Sars.
The alleged atrocities triggered mass protests across Nigeria under the hashtag #EndSars, forcing President Muhammadu Buhari to disband the hated unit.
Okoye Agu was detained after his boss accused him of stealing from work.
In his testimony, the man said that his property had been forcefully taken by Sars officers and the police had refused to pay him compensation despite a court order.
He said his family did not know where he was and when they arrived at the police station after 47 days of searching for him, his wife and mother were also beaten in front of him.
Tuesday’s proceedings were held up for almost two hours as the youth representatives on the panel refused to sign an oath of secrecy. The dispute was later resolved.
Independent investigations into police abuses were a core demand of the protesters who rallied across Nigeria for more than two weeks.
As we move to end police brutality, by virtue of Section 5 of Tribunals of Inquiry Law, Laws of Lagos State, 2015, I inaugurated an 8-man Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution which will receive and investigate complaints of police brutality in Lagos. pic.twitter.com/XRjDvw0Dha— Babajide Sanwo-Olu (@jidesanwoolu) October 19, 2020
The chair of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi, was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying that the panel was independent from the government and would ensure justice for victims of police brutality and “for those affected by the unfortunate incident of the shootings by the military”.
She was also quoted as saying that none of the 15 complaints received so far related to the shooting in Lekki, an upmarket suburb in Lagos
The inquiry in Lagos state was formed in the wake of nationwide protests calling for an end to Sars.
Lagos state Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has said that the scope of the panel has been expanded to include the shooting at the Lekki toll gate on 20 October.
Amnesty International and eyewitnesses say the military opened fire on peaceful protesters at the toll gate, killing at least 10 people. Two people were killed in another part of Lagos on the same day, Amnesty said.
The military has denied involvement in the shooting
It may also look into the shooting at protests last week in which rights groups say 12 people were killed. BBC