#EndSARS: Police Bans SARS From Carrying Out Routine Patrols

The Inspector-General of Police, M.A Adamu, has banned the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other Tactical Squads of the Force including the Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Anti-Cultism Squad operating at the Federal, Zonal and Command levels, from carrying out routine patrols and other conventional low-risk duties – stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks, traffic checks, etc – with immediate effect.

This was announced by the Police in a statement on Sunday afternoon, after the Online outrage from the activities of the officers of SARS.

Nairametrics reported today that Nigeria’s Ministry of Youth, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar all called on actions to be taken on SARS after the online outrage on Saturday.

“The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Police was set up to confront violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping and other related crimes. However, the unit has today morphed into an oppressor of the Nigerian masses who strive every day for a better life. Reports of intimidation, harassment and outright extortion by officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have continued unabated,” Atiku said.

The Police also announced today that no personnel of the Force is authorized to embark on patrols or tactical assignments without Police uniforms.

Stating, “They must always appear in their police uniforms or approved tactical gear”.

The IGP’s directives come against the backdrop of findings by the leadership of the Force that a few personnel of the Tactical Squads hide under this guise to perpetrate all forms of illegality, contrary to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement establishing the squads.

The IGP warned that SARS should not invade the privacy of Nigerian citizens through indiscriminate and unauthorized search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices.

“They are to concentrate and respond only to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes when the need arises,” he said.

The IGP urged that SARS is a critical component of the Police in fighting violent crimes nationwide, and condemned the acts of unprofessionalism, abuse of human rights and high-handedness by some personnel of the Squads.

The IGP has therefore ordered the X-Squad and the Monitoring Unit to embark on immediate and massive nationwide monitoring of activities of Tactical Squads and other police officers on the road.

“They are to ensure prompt arrest, investigation and prosecution of all erring police officers who violate these directives and other extant regulations of the Force,” he stated.

The IGP warned that the Commissioner of Police in charge of FSARS and other State Area Commanders will be held liable for any misconduct within their Area of Responsibility (AOR).

In another News the governor of Lagos State has pledged to take action against a notorious police unit which has been widely accused of committing human rights abuses.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu said he was very worried about reports of unlawful exploitation by officers from the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).

Videos shared on social media appear to show officers extorting money and even shooting people.

Nigerians want the unit disbanded.

The hashtag #EndSARS is trending on Twitter triggered by the alleged killing of a young man by SARS officers in the city of Lagos on Saturday.

Many people are also using the hashtag to share stories of brutality attributed to the police unit.

Three years ago Nigeria's police chief ordered an immediate re-organisation of the SARS after another social media outcry.

But an investigation by rights group Amnesty International, released in June, found that SARS members continue to use "torture and other ill-treatment to execute, punish and extract information from suspects".

It documented 82 cases between January 2017 and May 2020.

Amnesty found that the group targeted by the officers were young men between the ages of 17 and 30.

"Young men with dreadlocks, ripped jeans, tattoos, flashy cars or expensive gadgets are frequently targeted by SARS," the organisation said.

"The Nigerian authorities must go beyond lip service and ensure there is real reform, " Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria said about the findings.

Lagos governor Sanwo-Olu tweeted on Sunday: "Appropriate actions will be taken, and speedily too".

SARS comes under Nigeria's federal police, so it's not clear if the governor has the power to rein in the much criticised unit.

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