Paul Obi in Abuja
Following public outcry against high cases of arbitrariness by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), an arm of the Nigerian Police, the police authorities yesterday said plans were underway to reorganise SARS.
The move came on the heels of public and social media campaign to disband SARS.
Speaking on the planned restructuring, the Police Public Relations officer, CSP Jimoh Moshood, said: “Nigeria Police Force has observed the recent trend of events on 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 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, (IG), Ibrahim Idris, has shown concern with public interest and the need to reposition the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (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.
“The IG has also directed the immediate re-organisation of SARS nationwide and instant investigation into all the allegations, complaints and infractions levelled against the personnel of the squad across the country by the IG X-Squad of the NPF.”
Moshood explained that “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.
“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 property in their Area of responsibilities (AOR).
“Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) 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 FSARS in state and zonal commands across the country.”
He added that “all commissioners of police have been directed by the IG to comply with this directive with immediate effect and warn their personnel not to pose as SARS operatives.
“The IG X-Squad 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 organised by the force in collaboration with some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), local and international NGOs, and other human rights organisations on core police duties, observant of human rights and handling, care and custody of suspects have been directed by the IG for all federal SARS personnel nationwide with immediate effect.
“However, aggrieved members of the public who have any complaint in the past or present of violation of their rights by any SARS personnel anywhere in the country are to report through any of the following channels for investigation and further actions,” Moshood stated.
Efforts to speak with the Chairman of Police Service Commission, Mr. Mike Okiro, proved abortive as he was not available for comment.
Okiro also did not respond to calls and text messages put across to him.