A retired Commissioner of Police Emmanuel Ojukwu has commended Acting President Yemi Osinbajo for directing the Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris to overhaul the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force.
Speaking with our reporter, Ojukwu said, “The call for them to be overhauled, and the directive from the acting president are in order. The police are working in tandem to ensure that Nigerians enjoy their rights as enshrined in our constitution. I believe the IGP would do the needful to reposition the SARS to make it more effective and responsible to their action,” Ojukwu said, adding that officers of the outfit need to be retrained.
He said the demand by the public to end SARS was in line with the wish of the people to make the police accountable.
Following a public outrage over the activities of SARS across the country, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo ordered the IGP to overhaul the outfit. He directed the police boss to ensure that any unit that would emerge from the process would be intelligence-driven and restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery and kidnapping.
In compliance with the presidential directive, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris, has issued orders to formations across the country.
In a statement by the spokesman of the police, acting DCP Jimoh Moshood, the outfit would now be known as Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS).
He stated that a new commissioner of police had been appointed to oversee the FSARS nationwide. He also explained that the erstwhile FSARS under the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID) would henceforth operate under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters in Abuja.
He further stated that commanders were being appointed to take charge of the new squad across the country. They will operate in the states and zonal commands under the commissioner of police (FSARS) at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.
He noted that a new standard operational guidelines and procedures, as well as code of conduct for FSARS personnel were being developed to ensure that the rule of law is strictly adhered to in carrying out their operations.
The police are also to set up desk offices in every state to take complaints from the public on the operations the FSARS, especially on human rights, and forward same to force headquarters.
“A committee of senior police officers, technical consultants, human rights/civil society organisations, has been set up 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 complaint index, to assess facilities and situations and submit report to the Inspector-General of Police on a regular basis,’’ he stated.
The agitation to end the activities of SARS gained momentum following the creation of the #EndSars hash-tag on social media platforms. In an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, the convener of the #EndSars campaign, Segun Awosanya said Osinbajo’s order to overhaul the anti-robbery outfit was a welcome development.
“We received it with measured optimism. It is also a buildup of the dialogues we have had. I’m sure the acting president’s ears would have been filled with our petitions,” Awosanya said.
The national coordinator, Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria (NOPRIN), Okechukwu Nwanguma, said SARS was a reflection of the trouble with the Nigeria Police Force.
“It reflects the prevailing culture of lawlessness, violence and leadership ineptitude,’’ he said.
Nwanguma said the culture of violence characterised the SARS because the leadership of the NPF was singlehandedly appointed and serves as the pleasure of the president and the ruling party.
Andrew Braimoh, a media commissioner on the Board of the Police Service Commission (PSC) said, “I’m not aware of any complaint against the SARS to the PSC. The public never availed itself of the presence of the PSC as the only civilian oversight body that can discipline the Police Force. If there are no complaints before the Commission, we cannot do anything. We are happy with IGP’s immediate response to the order of the acting president,” he said.
Braimoh, however, said the PSC was monitoring the compliance with the presidential directive, noting, “We believe that the ongoing reform would make FSARS people-friendly and professional. Let’s give the ongoing reform the necessary support.”