The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris, in compliance with a Presidential directive has ordered the immediate overhaul of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), across the country.
A statement Wednesday by Police spokesman, acting DCP Jimoh Moshood said the outfit will now be known as Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS).
He said a new Commissioner of Police has been appointed as the overall head of the FSARS nationwide, adding that all SARS teams nationwide have been collapsed under FSARS.
Moshood said the move is also to address complaints and allegations on human rights violations against some of the personnel of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) from members of the public in some parts of the Country.
He said the FSARS under the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (FCIID) is henceforth to operate under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja.
He added that the Commissioner of Police (FSARS) is answerable to the Inspector General of Police through the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Department of Operations.
He said in observance of full compliance with the Presidential directives, the FSARS will be intelligence driven and will be restricted to the prevention and detection of Armed Robbery, kidnapping and the apprehension of offenders linked such offences only.
He said new FSARS Commanders are being appointed for the 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.
He added that 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.
Moshood said all Commissioners of Police have been directed by the Inspector IGP to comply with this directive with immediate effect and warn their personnel not to pose as SARS operatives.
He said 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.
He noted that 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.
He said it should give due regards to international human rights law and constitutionally guaranteed rights of suspects will be enforced in totality by the Commissioner of Police, FSARS.
Moshood said 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.
He said, “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.”
He added that, “Henceforth, FSARS personnel will not perform Stop and Search duties except on distress call to respond to armed robbery and kidnapping offences only.”
He said, “the 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.”
“Furthermore, a new training program 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.
“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.
“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.
Moshood said, 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 to report to the police for investigation.