Omololu Ogunmade and Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday ordered the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, to dismantle the management and composition of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) with immediate effect.
In compliance to the presidential directive, Idris has ordered the immediate overhauling of the outfit to address complaints and allegations on human rights violations against some of its personnel.
Osinbajo has also directed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to set up a special panel that would conduct an investigation into the alleged unlawful activities of SARS.
He also directed Idris to ensure that any unit that would emerge from the overhaul process is intelligence-driven.
Osinbajo also instructed the police boss to ensure that such unit is restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery, kidnapping and apprehension of offenders linked to stated offences, and nothing more.
A statement by Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, said the order was sequel to the persistent complaints and reports on activities of SARS which border on allegations of human rights violations.
Akande said the acting president also directed the IG to ensure that all operatives in the emerging unit conduct their operations in strict adherence to the principles of rule of law and observance of international human rights law and the constitutionally guaranteed rights of suspects.
“The acting president has also directed the IG 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 should also bear proper identification anytime they are on duty,” the statement said.
Akande also said Osinbajo directed “the NHRC to set up a special panel that would conduct an investigation into the alleged unlawful activities of SARS in order to afford members of the public the opportunity to present their grievances with a view to ensuring redress.”
As part of the steps taken to implement the presidential directive, the Force Public Relations Officer (PRO), DCP Jimoh Moshood, in a statement yesterday said in the new arrangement, a new Commissioner of Police has been appointed as the overall head of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) nationwide.
Moshood said FSARS, previously under the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (FCIID), is henceforth to operate under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja.
He noted that the Commissioner of Police (FSARS) is answerable to the IG through the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Department of Operations.
Moshooh also said in observance of full compliance with the presidential directives, the FSARS would be intelligence-driven and be restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery, kidnapping and the apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences only.
According to him, the new FSARS Commanders are being appointed across the country that will now exist and operate in the state and zonal commands under the Commissioner of F-SARS at the Force Headquarters, Abuja. He also said 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.
The Force PRO also said all Commissioners of Police have been directed by the IG to comply with this directive with immediate effect and warned their personnel not to pose as SARS operatives.
He stated that the IG’s 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.
Moshood further stated that a new Standard Operational Guidelines and Procedures, and code of conduct for all FSARS personnel to ensure that their operations 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.
He listed other measures to be implemented by the Force in observance of full compliance with the presidential directives including: 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,” he added.
Moshood assured the Force will be transparent, cooperate, and work cordially with the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) 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 further stated that 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 Inspector General of Police for all Federal SARS personnel nationwide with immediate effect.
He said these CSOs, 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.
He however, urged the 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 channels for investigation and redress.