Owing to the alleged shooting of a young man in Ughelli, Delta state on Saturday, there are now renewed calls for an end to the operations of the police’ special anti-robbery squad (SARS).
As the outrage continues, Mohammed Adamu, the inspector-general of police (IGP), on Sunday banned operatives of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), the Special Tactical Squad (STS) and Intelligence Response Team (IRT) from undertaking routine patrols as well as stop and search duties.
“The IGP has warned the Tactical Squads against the invasion of the privacy of citizens particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorized search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices,” read a statement signed by Frank Mba, police spokesperson.
“They are to concentrate and respond only to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes when the need arises.”
But this is not the first time police would be responding to protests against this squad Nigerians accuse of brutality, extortion and human rights abuses.
In September 2018, following an outcry over SARS brutality, Ibrahim Idris, the then IGP, issued a similar directive.
“You are barred from searching handsets and laptops of innocent citizens, unless the search is directly linked to a case or directed by IGP or any person or persons he so delegated,” the IGP had said.
Earlier in August 2018, then Acting-President Yemi Osinbajo directed Idris to overhaul SARS.
“Following persistent complaints and reports on the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) that border on allegations of human rights violations, His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN, Acting-President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, has directed the Inspector General of Police to, with immediate effect, overhaul the management and activities of SARS and ensure that any unit that will emerge from the process, will be intelligence-driven and restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery and kidnapping, and apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences, and nothing more,” a statement from his office read.
Following the directive, Idris renamed the police outfit federal SARS (FSARS) and ordered operatives to go for psychiatric evaluation.
He also ordered SARS operatives to wear uniforms with identification tags.
Two years later, it appears nothing has changed, and again, the police boss is repeating the same directive.
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