Member of Parliament and Minister for Africa for the UK Government, James Duddridge, has disclosed that it trained some members of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force.
Meanwhile, he stressed that the training was targeted at empowering them to operate in line with human rights, adding that, “through our CSSF-funded Nigeria Policing Programme, which ended in March 2020, FSARS officers participated in training on amended Nigerian police guidance designed to improve human rights, training on public finance, and community policing workshops.”
He disclosed this in a letter (dated October 29) to fellow parliamentarian, Kate Osamor, of the British House of Commons, seen by THE WHISTLER.
Recall that Osamor had earlier requested an investigation into UK’s funding of the police following widespread protests over police brutality.
“Today I have written to the Foreign Secretary @DominicRaab asking him to urgently confirm that no development spending has found its way into SARs units in Nigeria, or any other units in Nigeria responsible for corruption and abuses,” she had tweeted.
Subsequently, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu, queried the possibility of that but the UK Embassy denied it.
“Does it mean United Kingdom knowingly funded the notorious #SARS unit in Nigeria? Troubling!,” he asked on October 19.
On his part, Duddridge noted that the motive behind the programme was to equip Nigeria’s police to effectively combat crime.
But, he said that the unsavoury stories associated with the police and Nigerian army should be probed.
His letter partly reads:
“In my previous letter, I assured you that our CSSF Countering Organized Crime and Corruption Programme , about which you asked, did not and had not provided any support or training to Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) units or officers. This remains the case.
“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 this review, and in the interest of full transparency, I wanted to share the following information with you.
“Firstly, through our CSSF-funded Nigeria Policing Programme, which ended in March 2020, FSARS officers participated in training on amended Nigerian police guidance designed to improve human rights, training on public finance, and community policing workshops.
“This was in support of our wider objectives to strengthen the capability, accountability, and responsiveness of the Nigerian Police Force. The Nigeria Policing Programme was part of our Security and Justice Reform Programme, which is working to help deliver a criminal justice system that better protects the human rights of all Nigerians.”