Femi Falana, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says the special anti-robbery squad (SARS) is made up of members of the armed forces who are trained to kill.
Falana said the SARS operatives accused of extra-judicial killings and brutality are trained soldiers.
In an interview on TVC, the rights advocate spoke on the demand by Nigerians for SARS to be scrapped.
“SARS was actually created by the defunct military junta. It is made up of members of the mobile police unit and the armed forces,” Falana said during the interview monitored by TheCable Wednesday morning.
“In other words, armed troops have been legally engaged since 1991 in the maintenance of law and order in our country. From my investigations, the killings are essentially carried out by those who have been trained to kill.”
According to Falana, soldiers must be taken out of SARS and the training of police officers must be revamped, else things will not change.
“You must remove soldiers from SARS. Let me be honest with you, this system is not going to abolish SARS. They can’t abolish SARS. It’s not possible. There is no way you are going to abolish SARS under the present arrangement whereby you are going to have a field day for armed robbery suspects, kidnap suspects, slave drivers and human traffickers,” he said.
“At the police college, during training, police recruits are humiliated and dehumanised. By the time they come out, they want to have it back on the society that has degraded them.”
Falana said SARS alone should not be criticised, saying their actions are replicated by the police across the country.
He described the parading of criminal suspects as illegal and wondered by “big men” accused of crimes are never paraded.
He said: “But you cannot single out the SARS from the general extortion by policemen and women, police stations in the country. For instance, it’s not just the armed SARS that is involved in these criminal actions. When armed robbery suspects are arrested, they are forced through unprecedented torture to make incriminating statements.
“The next stage is to parade them before the media. You don’t parade a big man but you parade the poor. In those press conferences, media men and women are allowed to subject them to cross-examination which shouldn’t be because we have court judgements, not less than five, which say that parade of suspects is illegal.”
Falana further said the reason why the violations of human rights persist in the country is largely due to the indifference of Nigerians.
“Nigerians generally are used to moving on, Our rights are violated are we just move on,” he said.
“We must form organisations and human rights units in our churches, mosques and communities to protect the rights of Nigerians. These units will take up the human rights violation of their members. Nigerians must start to take advantage of their rights under the law.”
Falana also charged the media to boycott the parade of suspects.