The U.K Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, has finally accepted that the disbanded special anti-robbery squad, (SARS) were trained and equipped by the British Government.
Duddridge made this known on Thursday, October 29, in a letter to Labour MP, Kate Osamor who represents Edmonton, and who is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Nigeria.
Duddridge’s letter partly read, “Following my letter, officials have conducted a deep dive and reviewed our recent CSSF programmatic support to determine whether any of our programmes worked with FSARS.
“Following the review and in the interest of full transparency, I want to share the following information with you;
“Firstly, through our CSSF-funded Nigeria Policing Programme, which ended in March 2020, FSARS officers participated in the training on amended Nigerian police guidance designed to improve human rights, training on public finance, and community policing workshops.
“Secondly, through our support to the North East Public Safety and Security Programme (part of which is delivered jointly with USAID), radio equipment was issued to Borno Police Command by our implementing partner (Creative Associates) to increase coordination between police units working to improve local security and to counter violent extremist organisations. Borno Police Command distributed two handheld radios and a vehicle-mounted radio to FSARS Unit.
“These were returned and redistributed to other police units in Borno when FSARS was disbanded on 11 October.”
However, Osamor had earlier told the U.K government to reveal any ties it had with SARS. She told the Independent that, “It is shocking that in the middle of global protests to End SARS our government appears to have had no idea whether or not it was funding those very units.”
Osamor also said she had been told “categorically” by the minister earlier this month that no funding ever made its way to SARS units.
“The government has now been forced to admit that it not only spent millions training SARS but also directly supplied them with equipment.”
She added: “The government now needs to explain how and why it ever felt it was appropriate to train and equip security forces which were known to have taken part in torture and extra-judicial killings.”
The ex-SARS operatives were involved in no fewer than 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment, and extra-judicial killings since January 2017, she said.
Minister Duddridge however assured that the British Government was working with the Nigerian Foreign Affairs Ministry and other concerned authorities to support the Federal Government’s efforts to end police brutality and extrajudicial killings.
He also welcomed the Judicial Panels of Inquiry investigating human rights abuses by security agents in Nigeria including the shootings of #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos State.
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