Concerned about allegations of extrajudicial killings and other acts of professional misconduct against officers and personnel of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS), the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, has ordered the reorganisation of the special unit. Apart from the squad’s reorganisation, the IGP also ordered investigation of complaints made against personnel.
The directives were contained in a statement signed yesterday by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr. Jimoh Moshood, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP). The development came barely 24 after a sustained social media campaign (#ENDSARSNOW) against activities of the special police unit.
Before the Force Headquarters’ directive, there had been widespread reports of SARS’ operatives allegedly acting at variance with standard operation.
Though, SARS was established primarily to fight cases of armed robbery, there had been allegations of personnel dabbling into land/property dispute, relationships and other civil matters, which its mandate did not cover.
Among prominent personalities that had raised serious concerns over SARS’ alleged misconduct, is the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who, on several occasions, had called for the redeployment of the Commander, Federal SARS in his state, CSP Akin Fakorode.
But, the Police, in a statement by Moshood, said the litany of complaints would be thoroughly investigated, with a view to bringing errant officers to deserved justice. As part of the reorganisation process, the FPRO said the Federal Squad would, henceforth, be brought under the control of a Commissioner of Police (CP), and domiciled in the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja.
Also, Zonal and State Commands, as well as Divisions, will operate “anticrime units” and other crime prevention squads. Moshood said: “The Nigeria Police Force has observed the recent trends of event in the Social Media on the #ENDSARSNOW and the controversy being generated by the innuendos from the allegations and other misconceptions as it concerns the operational roles and activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a detachment of the Nigeria Police Force.
“Undoubtedly, SARS has been doing very well in fighting violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnappings and cattle rustling in the country in the recent time and this has resulted in drastic reduction of incidents of the mentioned violent crimes nationwide.
“However, the Inspector General of Police, concerned with public interest and the need to reposition SARS for more efficiency and effective service delivery to all Nigerians and ensure that SARS operates based on international core value of policing with integrity and make sure the rule of law prevails in the operations and activities of the outfit, has directed the immediate re-organization of SARS nationwide and instant investigation into all the allegations, complaints and infractions levelled against the personnel of SARS across the country by the IGP X-Squad of the Force.
“In the new arrangement, a Commissioner of Police is now the overall head of the Federal Anti- Robbery Squad nationwide under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja.” This was as he added that zonal and state commanders of F-SARS, will be officers between the ranks of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and Superintendent of Police (SP).
His words: “The Police Zonal Commands, State Commands and Divisions will continue to operate anti-crime units/sections, crime prevention and control squads and teams, imperative to prevent and detect crimes and criminalities in their Area of Responsibilities, and other crack squads necessary to sustain law and order and protection of life and properties in their Area of Responsibilities (AOR).
“Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) will now exist and operate in the State and Zonal Commands under the Commissioner of Police (F-SARS) at the Force Headquarters. A Federal SARS Commander of a rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and not below Superintendent of Police (SP) will be in charge of F-SARS 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 XSquad has been mandated to go round the Commands and Police Formations nationwide to ensure strict compliance and apprehend any erring police officer.
“Furthermore, a new training programme to 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.”