BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – At last, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, following the directive of the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday commenced the process of overhauling the operations of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
There have been hues and cries of Nigerians over incidences of abuses and violations of people’s rights by members of SARS that led to calls for the scrapping of the squad.
The presidential directive is aimed at addressing complaints and allegations on human rights violations against some of the personnel of SARS from members of the public in some parts of the country.
In line with the directive, the IGP has appointed a new Commissioner of Police as the overall head of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad nationwide.
A statement by the Force Public Relations Offier, Jimoh Moshood said the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad previously under the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (FCIID) will now operate under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja.
In this wise, the Commissioner of Police (FSARS) will be answerable to the Inspector General of Police through the Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge of the Operations.
IGP Idris said in observance of full compliance with the Presidential directives, the Federal Anti-Robbery 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.
According to Idria; “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.
“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.”
The police high command also said that 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.”
IGP Idris assured that the Police force will be transparent, cooperate, and work cordially with the National Human Right 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.
He also said that 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 approved for all Federal SARS personnel nationwide with immediate effect.
Idris alo said that a committee of Senior Police officers, Technical Consultants, Human Rights/Civil Society organizations (CSOs) has been setup to review the activities of FSARS under the new arrangement.
He further said; “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.
“However, aggrieved members of the public who have any complaint in the past or present of violation of their rights by any Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) personnel anywhere in the country are to report through any of the following channels for investigation and redress.
DIG, Department of Operations: 08037025670; IGP X-SQUAD 0902 690 0729, 08078662130, 08174041000 – CALLS
0903 227 8905 – SMS
0903 562 1377 – whatsapp
Others include; IGP Monitoring Unit: email@example.com, 08036242591
Commissioner of Police, FSARS: 08033476852
FORCE PUBLIC COMPLAINT BUREAU
PUBLIC COMPLAINT RAPID RESPONSE UNIT (PCRRU)
08057000001 – Calls Only
08057000002 – Calls Only
08057000003 – SMS & whatsapp only