Not enough evidence to prosecute 33 indicted SARS operatives- Malami

Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), says there is not enough evidence to prosecute 33 personnel of the now disbanded special anti-robbery squad (SARS) of the police indicted by a presidential panel in 2019.

This is contained in a report of the committee set up by Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation to review the individual cases recommended for prosecution by the special presidential panel.

The panel was chaired by Tony Ojukwu, executive secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), between 2018 and 2019.

The committee’s report indicted 35 police officers in 12 states and the federal capital territory (FCT) but recommended 33 for prosecution.

The panel also recommended that N249 million be paid to 57 victims.

The report was submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2019.

Malami set up a committee to review the recommendations by the Ojukwu panel.

After reviewing the report, the committee set up by the AGF said the panel’s report “does not meet prosecutorial needs” because there were no vital exhibits, such as “medical evidence and statements of the suspects” in the report.

“The report of the panel does not meet prosecutorial needs. No proper investigation was concluded in all the cases. Admissible evidence such as exhibits, medical evidence, statements of the suspects and witnesses that can be used in court have not been obtained or recorded in the appropriate sheet from the suspects and witnesses by the appropriate investigation team,” the AGF committee added.

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

The committee further stated that certain actions “must be taken in earnest” for the AGF office “to be able to successfully implement the panel’s recommendations”.

The actions include an establishment of a special team to investigate individual cases, while indicted officers are made to undergo disciplinary actions and dismissed from service where necessary.

“The indicted officers should be made to undergo disciplinary actions immediately and dismissed where appropriate.

“That the IGP who is well aware of the sensitivity of the matter should be advised to set up a special investigation team to conduct a thorough investigation into the individual cases.

“That after thorough investigation, the cases that are federal offences or fall within the FCT will be prosecuted by the office of the AGF while those that are state offences will be transferred to the respective states for prosecution,” the AGF committee stated.

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Written by Andrew Odoe
Serial Entrepreneur, Humanitarian, Social Activist and Writer.
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