The Nigerian Senate has mandated its Committees on Police Affairs and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate the alleged arrest, detention, rape and murder of Ifeoma Abugu by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) FCT Command in Abuja.
It also mandated the committees to investigate the status of the presidential directive on the reorganisation of SARS in light of the recent public outcry over atrocities perpetrated by the squad.
This was sequel to a point of order raised by the senator representing Enugu North senatorial district in the Nigerian Senate, Chukwuka Utazi.
Ms Abugu was said to have been arrested and whisked away from her fiance’s apartment by three SARS operatives at Wumba, Lokogoma Area of Abuja on September 1.
She was arrested in place of her fiance, Afam Abugu, who was the initial target of the police officers. She was detained, allegedly raped, and murdered by the SARS operatives.
Ms Abugu, who had just completed her national youth service, was planning her wedding, which was scheduled for December. She was killed days after her introduction.
Although the FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, had ordered a discreet investigation and post-mortem on the corpse to unravel the true cause of her death, the anti-robbery squad claims that she died of cocaine overdose.
In his presentation, Mr Utazi faulted the arrest of Ms Abugu in place of her fiance, which he said is contrary to Section 7 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which prohibits the arrest of family and friends of a suspect in order to get the suspect to surrender.
Before the gruesome murder of Ms Abugu, he said, there have been persistent complaints by the general public including news reports in print and electronic media of the attrocities of operatives of the squad including illegal arrests, detention and extra-judicial killing of Nigerians under very questionable and controversial circumstances.
He also recalled that in 2018, the federal government, in response to public outcry and media reports on the unlawful activities of SARS, set up a presidential panel on reform of SARS and the report of the panel formed the basis of the presidential directive on the overhaul of the activities of SARS to ensure that the squad is intelligence-driven, human rights sensitive and restricted to the prevention and detention of heinous crimes such as armed robbery and kidnapping and apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences.
“Despite all efforts to reform SARS, the notorious squad has remained brutal in its operation with very little or no regard to the observance of human rights and suspects, contrary to its scope of activities and the presidential directive regarding its operation and has even veered away from its core mandate.
“There is an urgent need for the Senate to investigate the incident in order to ensure that justice is given to the family of the deceased and to establish the status of SARS reform in the light of the recent public outcry over atrocities perpetrated by SARS operatives,” he said.
The committees were given two weeks to carry out the investigation and submit its findings and recommendations.
The lawmakers observed a minute silence in honour of the deceased and commiserated with her family and the people of Enugu State.