The UK Labour party is also calling for “independent investigations into the allegations against Nigeria’s SARS units, as well as military, security and policing forces responsible for attacks on protesters, that could lead to targeted Magnitsky-style sanctions against responsible individuals”, Osamor tweeted on Tuesday.
At a debate in parliament on Monday night, MPs pressed the government to adopt “individualised sanctions such as travel bans and asset freezes” against individuals accused of abuses.
After initially stating that Sars officers had not received UK support, the UK minister for Africa, James Duddridge, said the unit had received “strategic assistance” and training alongside personnel from the wider Nigerian police force as part of a programme that ran from 2016 to March this year.
Osamor, who heads the Commons all-party parliamentary group on Nigeria, said: “The government now needs to come clean and explain how and why that funding took place in the first place. They owe it to the many who have been killed by Sars units to explain who made the decision to fund those units and why.”
There were “serious concerns about the level of oversight attached to government funding in this area”, she added. “Amnesty International and several other international human rights organisations have been very clear that Sars have been directly involved in extrajudicial killings, torture and corruption. The UK government either knew that and decided it would fund Sars anyway or didn’t know where UK funding was going.”
A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said: “It is important that the police in Nigeria respect human rights. We have been working with Nigeria to support reforms to ensure this happens”.
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