#EndSARS: Justice for Victims of Police Brutality

#EndSARS: Justice for Victims of Police Brutality 3

A victim of police brutality, Sadiq Abubakar, whom S4C represented at the Abuja #EndSARS panel is among the 74 persons awarded compensation by the Nigerian government to the tune of N3, 674, 093.73 out of the total N289million.  On Sadiq’s behalf, SPACES FOR CHANGE | S4C petitioned the Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations by the Defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, and other Units of the Nigeria Police Force and provided him free legal representation throughout the hearing.  Enabled by the rapid response grant support from Fund for Global Human Rights (FGHR), Sadiq is one of the victims of police brutality identified during the joint fact-finding mission and on-the-spot assessment of the #EndSARS protests undertaken in seven states in Nigeria by members of the Action Group on Free Civic Space between October to December 2020. The mission unearthed how human rights abuses and deep-seated grievances unaddressed by the state for decades morphed into spontaneous, peaceful demonstrations against governmental inaction.

Sadiq was shot in his home in the central area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) sometime in 2020, by officers of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). He was shot several times on his right hand, illegally detained, and denied access to healthcare for several days by SARS officers who claimed to be investigating a kidnap case in the area. The incident left him with severe nerve damage to his right hand. S4C took up the case under its FGHR-supported Legal Helplines Project and petitioned the panel in December 2020. A team of lawyers from S4C and the Network of Pro Bono Lawyers diligently followed through the proceedings until the final hearing when the panel delivered judgment in his favor in December 2021.

After 9 months of sustained advocacy from stakeholders, the Federal Government of Nigeria has finally paid compensation to the victims. According to S4C’s Legal Officer, Patrick Allam, “this is a win for the rule of law in Nigeria. We look forward to the replication of this gesture in other states of the federation.” The presentation ceremony was held on September 14, 2022, at the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, which also doubled as the secretariat for the judicial panel. The panel awarded compensations after it successfully considered a total of 295 out of 297 petitions bordering on extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, cruel/degrading and inhumane treatment by police officers, prolonged detention, abuse of power, as well as non-payment of judgment debts.

“This is a win for the rule of law in Nigeria. We look forward to the replication of the gesture in other states of the federation”, says S4C’s Legal Officer, Patrick Allam.

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