The call for Nigerians to look into the operations of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) has finally paid off as the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo today ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris Kpotum to immediately overhaul the management and activities of SARS.
In a statement by Laolu Akande, the spokesman for the Acting President, said that any unit to emerge from the overhauling process, must be intelligence-driven, restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery, kidnapping, and apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences.
This development arose from several complaints and cries from Nigerians accusing SARS officers of several misconducts ranging from harassment, extortion, assault to extra-judicial killings.
While some Nigerians commended the Acting President for the giant stride, others believed it is long overdue, accussing the Buhari led All Progressive Congress government of using the order to score cheap political goals, stating it is geared towards winning the minds of Nigerians in the oncoming 2019 general election.
It could be recalled that the police had on the 4th of December, 2017, made an order which seemed to be totally disregarded.
Reacting to the directives by the Vice President, the Police through the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, released a statement, stating that the the IGP has renamed the department as Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) as SARS teams nationwide would now work under FSARS.
Similar to the previous reordering, the Police said that a new Commissioner of Police has been appointed as the overall head of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad nationwide.
The re-ordering would ensure that FSARS will operate as an 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
“The Federal Special Anti-Robbery 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 IGP said officers to be appointed as head of SARS must not be below the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP).
“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,” he said.
All state commissioners of police were ordered to ensure the new arrangement is strictly adhered to while mandating IGP X-Squad and Monitoring Unit to go round the Commands and Police Formations nationwide to ensure strict compliance with the Presidential directives and apprehend any erring police officer.
The Police IG additionally stated that a new operational guideline would be put in place and strictly adhered to in ensuring FSARS personnel act in line to the rule of law and with due regards to international human rights law.
“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.”
While announcing a new training for FSARS personnel, the Police also insisted it would be transparent and work cordially with the National Human Rights Commission to conduct an investigation of the alleged unlawful activities of FSARS to address grievances from the public.
According to the Police, 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.
iii. 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 Police further provided hotdesk numbers that the public can immediately call whenever they are being assaulted by personnel of FSARS:
- DIG, Department of Operations: 08037025670
- IGP X-SQUAD
0902 690 0729, 08078662130, 08174041000 – CALLS
0903 227 8905 – SMS
0903 562 1377 – whatsapp
iii. IGP Monitoring Unit: email@example.com, 08036242591
- Commissioner of Police, FSARS: 08033476852
- FORCE PUBLIC COMPLAINT BUREAU
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- PUBLIC COMPLAINT RAPID RESPONSE UNIT (PCRRU)
08057000001 – Calls Only
08057000002 – Calls Only
08057000003 – SMS & whatsapp only
vii. firstname.lastname@example.org, 08027757359
viii. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 09051133035
- email@example.com, 07037887630