For fourth time in 4 years, IGPs ban SARS
From Jacob Segun Olatunji, Olalekan Olabulo and Wale Akinselure
FOR the fourth time in four years, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, on Sunday, announced the ban of the personnel of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) from carrying out routine patrols, stop and search duties, mounting of roadblocks, traffic checks.
In a statement by Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, the IGP announced not just the ban of FSARS, but also other tactical squads of the force, including the Special Tactical Squad, Intelligence Response Team, Anti-Cultism Squad and others operating at the federal, zonal and command levels with immediate effect.
Furthermore, Adamu added that no personnel of the force was authorised to embark on patrols or tactical assignments in mufti, stressing that officers must always appear in their police uniforms or approved tactical gear.
Specifically, the IGP has warned the tactical squads against the invasion of the privacy of citizens, particularly through the indiscriminate and unauthorised search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices, urging them to concentrate and respond only to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes when the need arises.
Like other times, the announcement of a ban of the FSARS from routine patrols and other conventional duties comes on the heels of the outcry of Nigerians on various social media handles about incessant killings, brutality, harassment of youths and various abuses of human rights.
In what has become a yearly ritual, it will be recalled that the IGP had, in December 2017, June 2018, January 2019 and in February this year, made related announcements of a ban of SARS and an immediate restructuring of the outfit.
While announcing a ban of SARS from conducting stop and search operations in December 2017, the former IGP, Ibrahim Idris, also promised to restructure and reposition the unit for effective service delivery.
The then IGP’s order in June 2018 was a ban on SARS from conducting stop and search operations on roads, followed by another order in August 2018 for an immediate overhauling of SARS in compliance with a directive by then acting president, Yemi Osinbajo.
In addition, the IGP ordered an immediate medical and psychological evaluation of all SARS officers and instant investigation into allegations, complaints and infractions levelled against personnel of SARS across the country by the IGP X-Squad of the force.
In January 2019, the current IGP disbanded the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, FSARS and ordered state police commissioners to command the squads in their locations.
That same 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ministry of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to work out modalities for the implementation of the report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) within three months.
Among others, the panel had recommended the establishment of state and local government police and the renaming of SARS to Anti-Robbery Section (ARS), which was its original name and to make the section operate under the intelligence arm of the police.
Following the death of a player of Remo Stars Football club, Tiamiyu Kazeem, in February this year, allegedly caused by operatives of ZIS SARS, Obada-Oko, Abeokuta, the IGP had announced the disbandment of SARS offices nationwide.
Prior the IGP’s announcement of a ban of FSARS from routine patrols, on Sunday, Nigerians had trended the hashtag #ENDSARS for about 48 hours, with photos, videos, tweets, posts, calling for an end to SARS in Nigeria.
Throughout Saturday, Nigerians also trended a SARS watch giving reports of where SARS officials were stationed in their various areas.
However, Nigerians were cautious in their commendation of the latest ban of SARS, noting that the announcement may be another routine one without implementation.
Beyond the ban on SARS, television host, Uti Nwachukwu, @SirUTI, demanded what the Nigerian government was doing to reform and restructure the Nigeria Police.
Tweeting @officialnairam1, a Nigerian musician, Azeez Fashola and popularly known as Naira Marley, warned Nigerians against vandalism to express their grouse.
Nigerian pop star, Ayodeji Balogun, popularly known as Wizkid, on Sunday, joined the #EndSARS campaign by calling on President Buhari to protect Nigerians.
Responding to a tweet by Buhari wishing American President, Donald Trump, fast recovery from Coronavirus, Wizkid urged the president to focus more on issues affecting the country and its youths rather than matters that concern America.
“Donald Trump is not your business! Old man! Police/SARS still killing Nigerian youths on a daily! Do something! Nothing concern u for America! Face your country,” Wizkid wrote.
On his part, Senior Pastor, Daystar Christian Centre, Sam Adeyemi, stressed the need for all police units and public officials to have a value system that treats citizens with dignity.
Aside from restructuring SARS, Adeyemi noted that the nation needed a restructuring where public officials use power to serve citizens, not to intimidate and exploit them.
In his own series of tweets, known activist, Reno Omokri, tweeting @renoomokri, called for an end to SARS rather than a reformation.
Making reference to repeated ban of SARS, a personal development coach, Dipo Awojide, simply described the latest ban as “Rinse, Edit and Repeat.”
Lending his voice to the agitation, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State expressed worry at the reports of exploitation of Nigerians, assuring of taking appropriate actions to end the trend.
“The safety of our residents is my number one duty as the CSO of Lagos.”
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