Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has vowed to look into allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings of youths in the state by the recently disbanded police Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), particularly Awkuzu SARS under CSP James Nwafor, retired.
Nwafor who was head of Awkuzu SARS from around 2012 to 2016, is accused of carrying out series of extrajudicial killings and torture of youths in the state, including dumping of bodies of youths tortured to death in Ezu River. And there have been calls for him to be tried for the alleged crimes.
With the recent protests against SARS, which has led to the scrapping of the unit by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, there have been renewed calls for the trial of Nwafor, who is said to be serving under Obiano as special adviser on security matters.
The governor on Thursday, held meeting with youths in the state during which he promised to look into the allegations, even as he clarified that although Mr. Nwafor was once his adviser, he had since been dismissed.
The Anambra governor, according to a statement from the state commissioner for information, C. Don Adinuba, also promised to ensure broad reforms in the state police command, assuring that his government will create a broad-based panel to look into allegations of police brutality in the state.
” Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State this afternoon held a frank and candid discussion with a large number of Nigerian youths on the state of the nation, with particular attention to the experience of young people at the hands of security agents,” Adinuba said.
“The governor noted with dismay reports of inhuman treatment to the youth by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force, and consequently lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for disbanding SARS in accordance with the wishes of Nigerian youths and also for acceding to their four requests for a better police force.
“To create a more humane social order in Anambra State, Governor Obiano has decided to set up a broad-based panel to look into reports of abuse of human rights by the defunct SARS in the state over the years. Headed by The Hon Justice V. N, Umeh, (retired) the panel will complete its job within 30 days. Members comprise the following:
(A) A representative of the Association of Anambra State Students;
(B) Three youth leaders from the three senatorial zones in the state;
(C) A member of the National Youth Service Corps in the state;
(D) Anambra State chairman, Civil Liberties Organisation;
(E) Chairman, Anambra Civil Society Network;
(F) Chairman of the Youth Council of Nigeria, Anambra State Chapter;
(G) A representative of the Youth Wing of the Ohaneze NdIgbo, Anambra State;
(H) Chairman of the Youth Wing of the Anambra Town Unions (ASATU);
(I) Chairman of the Christian Association, Anambra State;
(J) A nominee of the Archbishop of the Anglican Province of the Niger;
(K) A nominee of the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha;
(L) A representative of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Anambra State;
(M)A representative of the Chairman of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council;
(N) The Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice;
(O) The Commissioner for Youth & Creative Economy;
(P) The two youngest members of the State Executive Council; and
(Q) The Special Adviser to the Governor on Creative Security.
” The panel will look, in particular, into allegations of extrajudicial killings by a former head of the SARS office in the state, Chief Superintendent of Police James Nwafor (retired), whose appointment as a Special Assistant to the Governor has since been terminated. He will face prosecution if found guilty of any of the alleged offences.
” Governor Obiano has also directed the Commissioner of Police to review all detentions in not just the SARS facilities in the state but also in all police formations to ensure that the freedoms and dignity of all citizens are upheld at all times.”