#EndSarsNow: Punishment For Police (SARS) Torture.

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#EndSarsNow: Punishment For Police (SARS) Torture. Daily Law Tips (Tip 669) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)


According to Amnesty International, members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force, “get rich by torturing detainees and demanding for bribes”. The report of the institution, reveals that “SARS officers are getting rich through their brutality”. With an out pour on social media, it is obvious that the hardship and torture have been served on non-detainees and the general public by members of SARS across Nigeria. Hence, the growing demand for the disbandment and end of SARS; #EndSarsNow. This work reveals the punishment for police torture in Nigeria.

Taming The Tamer:  

Man is naturally selfish and brutal, hence the need for law to restrain man and suppress the animal in man. Through law enforcement agencies, laws are implemented and the uncivilised shades of man are tamed. So, the law enforcement agencies and agents are the tamers of man, working to ensure that man is cordial within the provisions of law. However, where professionalism and rule of law are thrown away, the law enforcement agencies and agents will exhibit same level or higher level of lawlessness. Hence, there is a huge need to tame the tamers. 

Lawlessness in police force will include; lack of identification by officers, illegal arrest and detention, kidnap, torture, extortion, bribery and disregard of law and order. Below are few points on the lawlessness and unprofessionalism in Nigerian Police: 

  1. “On 5 September 2019, operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Lekki, Lagos allegedly kidnapped, tortured and robbed Nigerian rapper Ikechukwu Onunaku. According to publications by Punch Nigeria the rapper was forcefully made to make several withdrawals at the ATM to pay SARS operatives for doing nothing.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Anti-Robbery_Squad
  2. “On 21 August 2019, four SARS operatives were arrested and charged with murder after being caught on film manhandling and then shooting to death two suspected phone thieves in broad daylight. The two suspected phone thieves were shot dead after they had been arrested.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Anti-Robbery_Squad
  3. “In October 2018, 24-year-old Sunday Bang, an amateur boxer was arrested in his home in Abuja, by SARS officers and accused of robbery. He was held in detention for 5 weeks without access to family, lawyers or medical care – and was not charged in court. While in SARS detention, he suffered bone fractures and other injuries due to torture and other ill treatment.” https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/06/nigeria-horrific-reign-of-impunity-by-sars-makes-mockery-of-anti-torture-law/ 
  4. “On 30 April 2018, Ugochukwu, a 32-year-old trader was arrested without a warrant at his shop. The police officers accused him of paying a gang whose members had been blackmailing him. Instead of helping Ugochukwu, SARS officers requested 20,000,000 nairas ($55,325) as payment for his freedom. They detained and tortured him for six days, and even staged a mock execution to break him and force him to pay. On the fifth day, Ugochukwu was told that his life would end that day because he refused to pay. Four policemen blindfolded and handcuffed him. They pushed him inside a car and drove for two hours. They brought him near a borrow pit inside the bush. They all drew their guns and pointed them at him. Ugochukwu begged for his life as the leader gave the order to fire. He heard the sound of rapid gunshots and passed out. When he finally came to, he was back in the car and policemen brought him back to the cell. He was told that he would not be so lucky next time. Ugochukwu paid 6,000,000 nairas ($16,666) to SARS officers the next day before he was released.” https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/nigeria-end-impunity-for-police-brutality-end-sars/ 
  5. “The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released a report in August 2017 which found that Nigeria’s police officers were the most likely of all civil servants to solicit and collect bribes.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/15/nigerians-want-polices-sars-force-scrapped/?gb=true 

Police Torture and Punishment For Torture:

Nigerian Police Force is a creation of law and it is not above the law. Even in protection of lives and property, the Nigerian Police Force must respect fundamental human rights of all persons in Nigeria. Torture is a violation of fundamental human right. Torture is the intentional infliction/causing of mental or physical pain/suffering on a person in order to obtain information/confession, or to punish, intimidate and force him or a third party. Torture includes; beatings, food deprivation, rubbing of pepper/chemicals, assuming of stressful bodily positions, rape, exposure to cold/sunlight, use of drugs, blindfolding, threat, prolonged interrogation, unscheduled transfer of persons, secret detention, denial of sleep, shaming, stripping naked and parading in public places. 

Police torture is a crime, irrespective of the alleged offence of the victim of torture. There is no justification for torture, not even war, national security or high profile case. Every police torture is a violation of fundamental human right. Where there is torture in any security agency, the immediate commanding officer officer in-charge of the unit/department that committed such offence of torture will be held liable as an accessory to the crime, for any act or omission or negligence on his part that may have led to the commission of torture by his subordinates/colleagues. Any person that witnesses or is present when torture is being conducted is as liable as the person that conducted torture. Such witness is deemed as having participated in the torture. This applies to any person; military, para-military or civilian! 

By the Anti-Torture Act 2017, any form of torture is an offence and a court can punish an offender with imprisonment for not more than 25 years, without an option of fine. Where torture leads to death, the violator will be tried for murder. The punishment for murder is death. Also, with internal disciplinary measures, the concerned police officer may lose his job too. 


Silence of victims of torture and their families seem to be emboldening police torture. One should never be shy or too religious to report and sue any police officer involved in any form of torture. Do this to discourage the surge in police brutality. The Nigerian Police Force must ensure that budget of police force (tax payers fund) is not used to pay damages on behalf of police officers, rather concerned violators/officers must be made to pay for any damages/liabilities from their salaries and retirement benefits. Contact your lawyer and sue any police officer or law enforcement agent that has ever tortured. There is no expiration date for the investigation and prosecution of any police officer or person involved in torture. 

My authorities are:

  1. Sections 1, 33 to 46, 214, 215 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
  2. Sections 2, 8 and 14 of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017.
  3. “Nigeria: Special police squad ‘get rich’ torturing detainees and demanding bribes in exchange for freedom” (Amnesty International, 21 September 2016) <https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/09/nigeria-special-police-squad-get-rich-torturing-detainees/> accessed 5 October 2020. 
  4. “Special Anti-Robbery Squad” (Wikimedia Foundation, 5 October 2020) <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Anti-Robbery_Squad> accessed 5 October 2020.
  5. “End SARS” <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End_SARS> (Wikimedia Foundation, 5 October 2020) accessed 5 October 2020
  6. “Demand justice for Police Brutality in Nigeria” (Amnesty International) <https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/nigeria-end-impunity-for-police-brutality-end-sars/> accessed 5 October 2020
  7. “Nigerians want police’s SARS force scrapped”, Aisha Salaudeen (Aljazeera, 17 December 2017) <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/15/nigerians-want-polices-sars-force-scrapped/?gb=true> accessed 5 October 2020
  8. “Any Security Agency’s Manual/Protocol That Allows Torture Even For National Security Cases Is Unlawful And Its Officers Are Liable”, Onyekachi Umah (Daily Law Tip [Tip 412] <https://sabilaw.org/any-security-agency-s-manual-protocol-that-allows-torture-even-for-national-security-cases-is-unlawful-and-its-officers-are-liable-daily-law-tips-tip-412-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/> accessed 5 October 2020. 
  9. “What Is The Punishment For Any Person Including Police Officers That Tortures Another Person”, Onyekachi Umah (Daily Law Tip [251]) <https://sabilaw.org/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-251-what-is-the-punishment-for-any-person-including-police-officers-that-tortures-another-person/> accessed 5 October 2020.
  10. “Is Obeying “Orders From Above” A Defence For Torture In Nigeria”, Onyekachi Umah (Daily Law Tips [Tip 409]) <https://sabilaw.org/is-obeying-orders-from-above-a-defence-for-torture-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-409-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/> accessed 5 October 2020. 
  11. Direct access to previous works on Torture in Nigeria <https://sabilaw.org/?s=torture+>  










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