-Wants squad overhauled
-IGP complies, Nigerians hail Presidency
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has ordered an investigation into alleged human rights violations by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force.
He also directed the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, to immediately effect an overhaul of the management and activities of the squad.
The directives were contained in a statement issued yesterday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr.
According to the statement, any unit that will emerge from the process should be intelligence-driven and restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery and kidnapping, and apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences, warning that the emerging unit should not venture into any other assignment.
Further to that, the Presidency directed the IGP to ensure that all operatives in the emerging Unit conduct their operations in strict adherence to the rule of law and with due regard to International Human Rights Law and the constitutionally guaranteed rights of suspects.
The operatives, the statement added, should also bear proper identification anytime they are on duty.
The Acting President also ordered the National Human Rights Commission to set up a special panel to conduct an investigation into alleged unlawful activities of SARS.
This, he said, would afford members of the general public the opportunity to present their grievances with a view to seeking redress.
IGP complies And in compliance with the presidential directive, the IGP has immediately carried the reorganisation of the squad.
Announcing this yesterday in a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, the IGP appointed a new Commissioner of Police to head the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad, otherwise known as FSARS with a new modus operandi.
He said: The Federal Special AntiRobbery Squad previously under the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (FCIID) is henceforth to operate under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja.
The Commissioner of Police (FSARS) is answerable to the Inspector General of Police through the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Department of Operations,” The CP, Moshood further said, is to oversee the operations of SARS nationwide.
“The Inspector General of Police in compliance with the Presidential directives has ordered the immediate overhauling of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to address complaints and allegations on human rights violations against some of the personnel of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) from members of the public in some parts of the country.” Continuing, the force spokesman said, “in observance of full compliance with the Presidential directives, the Federal AntiRobbery Squad will be intelligence-driven and will be restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery, kidnapping and the apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences only.
“New FSARS Commanders are being appointed for the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) across the country that will now exist and operate in the State and Zonal Commands under the Commissioner of Police (F-SARS) at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.
“A Federal SARS Commander of a rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) but not below Superintendent of Police (SP) will be in charge of FSARS in State and Zonal Commands across the country.
“All Commissioners of Police have been directed by the Inspector General of Police to comply with this directive with immediate effect and warn their personnel not to pose as SARS operatives.
The IGP X-Squad and Monitoring Unit have been mandated to go round the Commands and Police Formations nationwide to ensure strict compliance with the Presidential directives and apprehend any erring police officer,” the statement said.
It further disclosed that “a new Standard Operational Guidelines and Procedures, and code of conduct for all FSARS personnel to ensure that the operations of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad is in strict adherence to the rule of law and with due regards to international human rights law and constitutionally guaranteed rights of suspects will be enforced in totality by the Commissioner of Police, FSARS.
“Other measures to be implemented by the Force in observance of full compliance with the presidential directives are as follows: Human Rights Desk Officers for FSARS in every State to take complaints from the public and forward same to Force Headquarters, the officer will be answerable to the Commissioner of Police, FSARS at the Force Headquarters and not Commander FSARS in the states.
“Medical/Psychological evaluation of all FSARS personnel will be carried out immediately.
Redesigning of new uniform with identity name tag for all FSARS personnel throughout the country will be done immediately.
“Henceforth, FSARS personnel will not perform Stop and Search duties except on distress call to respond to armed robbery and kidnapping offences only.
The Force will be transparent, cooperate, and work cordially with the National Human Rights Commission on the special panel that will conduct an investigation of the alleged unlawful activities of FSARS to address grievances from the public against the personnel of FSARS in compliance with the presidential directives.” The force also disclosed that a new training program would “be organized by the Force in collaboration with some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), local and international NGOs, and other human rights organizations on core police duties, observant of human rights and handling, care and custody of suspects have been directed by the Inspector General of Police for all Federal SARS personnel nationwide with immediate effect.
“A committee of Senior Police officers, Technical Consultants, Human Rights/ Civil Society organizations (CSOs) has been set up to review the activities of FSARS under the new arrangement.
“They are to pay unscheduled visits to FSARS formations across the country with particular attention to states with high complaints index, to assess facilities and situations in these states and submit report to the Inspector General of Police on regular basis.” It advised aggrieved members of the public with any complaint rights abuse in the past or present by any SARS personnel in any part of the country to report through appropriate channels.
Nigerians applaud Meanwhile, Nigerians have commended Acting President Osinbajo for his order reordering and reviewing SARS operations.
According to Premiumtimes, notable Nigerians expressed their excitement over the decision as many clamoured for the scrapping and reformation of the police unit in the past months.
The #EndSARS hashtag gained prominence on Twitter.
Omojuwa @omojuwa, a social media enthusiast, said the step is germane in the reformation of SARS.
“This is an important step forward in the reform of Nigeria’s notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
It helps that the Human Rights abuses got referenced too.
Hopefully, it leads to a much better unit.
@ProfOsinbajo! #EndSARS issagoal!” he tweeted.
Another Twitter user, Reno Omokri @ renoomokri, an author, tweeted: “I commend @ProfOsinbajo for responding to Nigerians’ clamour over SARS; however, I don’t believe an overhaul is what is required.
You shouldn’t overhaul what has become a vehicle for oppressing Nigerians.
I call on the VP to #EndSARS and return its officers to core police duties.” Joe Abah @DrJoeAbah also commended the campaign team and supporters, who advocated for the reformation.
“Well done to you @segalink and the team.
It takes a lot of discipline to remain methodical, focused & persistent without allowing a rush of blood to the head to derail efforts.
For academics like us, the process you all have adopted to successfully #EndSARS is worthy of study