The United Kingdom Parliament is scheduled to begin a discussion on the online petition signed by over 200,000 persons asking for sanctions to be imposed against Nigerian Government and police officials involved in human rights abuses.
The petition titled “Implement sanctions against the Nigerian Government and officials” will be the focus of debate at 6 pm today (Monday).
In a statement, Parliament said that a Westminster Hall debate on ‘e-petition 554150, relating to Nigeria and the sanctions regime’ is scheduled for Monday 23 November 2020 from 6:00-7:30 pm. The debate will also be live.
“The debate will be led by Theresa Villiers MP, the statement said.
The petition was prompted by the actions of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS. Originally created in 1992 to fight violent crime, the unit became synonymous with police brutality, human rights violation, extortion and torture.
“The forceful response by police to those protests further exacerbated tensions. On October 11 President Muhammadu Buhari announced plans to disband the unit and reform the police,” the Parliament statement said.
It added that “However, such promises have been made before. And Mayeni Jones, the BBC Nigeria correspondent, suggests disbanding SARS may not resolve the underlying issue of police brutality, and activists are calling for a total overhauling of policing in Nigeria.
The military and police are rarely held accountable for malfeasance or for perpetrating human rights violations, Matthew Page, associate fellow in the Africa Programme at Chatham House, wrote in 2019 in an article on Nigeria’s struggles with security sector reform. Page said much of the responsibility for the security forces failings “can be laid at the feet of Nigeria’s political leaders”.
Amnesty International is also calling for the Nigerian authorities to explain the army’s role in the deaths of protestors at Lekki Toll Gate on 20 October.
The UK Government has outlined its position in the response to the petition.
The Government said it welcomed the disbandment of SARS and the establishment of judicial panels of inquiry to investigate allegations of brutality.
The FCDO urged the Nigerian Government to hold those responsible to account.
The statement continues: “The UK Government will continue to work with the Nigerian Government and international and civil society partners to support justice, accountability and a more responsive policing model in Nigeria.”
“We will continue to push for the Nigerian security services to uphold human rights and the rule of law, investigate all incidents of brutality, illegal detentions and use of excessive force, and hold those responsible to account.”