A top government official in Great Britain has disclosed that the United Kingdom government trained the operatives of the disbanded special anti-robbery squad (SARS) unit for four years.
This was disclosed in a letter dated October 29, 2020, and addressed to Kate Osamor, a member of the UK parliament, by James Duddridge, UK minister for Africa. In the letter, which Osamor shared on her Twitter page, Duddridge said the former operatives of SARS participated in a training “designed to improve human rights.”
Following a nationwide protest against brutality and human rights violations by the now disbanded SARS unit, Osamor had written the UK minister to confirm purported links between the UK government and SARS.
The protests came after several years of suppressed anger by the general populace at the anti-robbery squad who had been severally accused of using excessive force, harassing and extorting citizens and, in some cases, extrajudicial killings.
Duddridge said in the letter that the training programme ended in March 2020, and added that the UK remains committed to the respect of human rights in Nigeria.
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The letter read: “Through our CSSF-funded Nigeria Policing Programme, which ended in March 2020, FSARS officers participated in training on amended Nigerian police guidance designed to improve human rights, training on public finance and community policing workshops.
“This was in support of our wider objectives to strengthen the capacity, accountability and responsiveness of the Nigerian Police Force.
“The Nigeria Policing Programme was part of our Society and Justice Reform Programme, which is working to help deliver a criminal justice system that better protects the human rights of all Nigerians.”
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According to the UK minister, some of the positive outcomes of the program included the community-policing framework and improved relations with communities.
Osamor has described the revelation by the minister as shocking and has since sought further clarification.
“Either the Government deliberately funded SARS units when they were known to have committed extra-judicial killings or it had no idea where that funding was going,” she wrote via her Twitter handle.
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