British MP Writes UK Government Over Financial Support To Nigeria’s SARS

Kate Osamor, a member of the British parliament representing Edmonton, has written to the United Kingdom Government to question and seek clarification on the nature of aid the country extends to Nigeria’s rogue police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

News Central reports that SARS had been disbanded following peaceful protests against the activities of the Nigeria Police Force unit.

Osamor’s letter sent to the UK government through the office of the Secretary of State, Foreign Affairs, called the attention of the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Mr Dominic Raab, to the nationwide protests in Nigeria in the past seven days against the excesses of SARS.

The letter was dated October 15, 2020.

She warned that further assistance be withheld and also called for an audit of what the previous aids were used for so that the UK Government agency would not be unintentionally supporting or facilitating the actions of an agency notorious for human rights violations.

The letter made available to ACE was written in a tone of caution to avoid a situation SARS got support from the agency without proper use.

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Osamor’s letter cited that there have been 82 proven and documented incidents of torture, ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions and gross human rights abuses against SARS since January 2017 and cautioned it would be unthinkable that UK agency gives support to such body unless for training on proper conduct that respects human rights.

Osamor notified Raab that she wrote in her capacity as a member of a committee that superintends the agency.

She alerted that given the shady accountability process in the Nigerian agency, there might be the likelihood that UK might have been unknowingly providing support for an agency involved in the offences of abuses mentioned.

Her letter read, “I’m writing as a member of the International Development Select Committee and Chair of the Nigeria APPG to ask for some clarification regarding the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund project in Nigeria which is aimed at ‘increasing the capacity of Nigerian kidnap units to deliver anti-kidnap and kidnap response capacity’.

“I’m sure you will be aware of the recent protests against Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which has been involved in at least 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial execution since January 2017.

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“Given these concerns and concerns generally with the nature of corruption and brutality in Nigerian law enforcement, it is obviously extremely important that no UK development spending finds its way into the pockets of groups within Nigeria who are guilty of such crimes.

“For that reason, I’m very concerned about the UK development funds which have been invested in the “Nigeria Countering Organised Crime and Corruption” project and the lack of transparency when it comes to this project.

“In light of the lack of detail provided and the circumstances in Nigeria, there is a high risk that the NCA is providing supports to units implicated in the abuses I have mentioned above.

“I would therefore be grateful if you could confirm whether any funding or other kinds of support have, directly or indirectly, been given to the SARS unit.

“If support has been provided, can you confirm whether it was in the form or training, the provision of equipment, funding or another form of support?

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“Can you confirm what due diligence and risk assessments were undertaken prior to the implementation of the project?

“What steps is your department taking to ensure that any support given by this Government to SARS did not facilitate abuses?”

The lawmaker’s letter comes amid days of unending demonstrations by #EndSARS protesters who demand a total overhaul of the police system and an end to extrajudicial killings by its men.

The protests have intensified despite the disbandment of the unit and the announcement of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) to replace it.

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