The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has banned the personnel of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other Tactical Squads of the police from routine patrols across the country.
It means SARS operatives can no longer do routine tasks as stop and search, road block check, traffic check or regular checkpoints.
Adamu said the squads affected by the ban are the Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Anti-Cultism Squad and other Tactical Squads operating at the Federal, Zonal and Command levels, according to a statement released by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, on Sunday.
“In addition, no personnel of the Force is authorised to embark on patrols or tactical assignments in mufti.
“They must always appear in their police uniforms or approved tactical gear,” he said.
Adamu said the directives came against the backdrop of findings by the leadership of the Force that a few personnel of the Tactical Squads hide under these guise to perpetrate all forms of illegality.
According to him, the IG has warned the Tactical Squads against the invasion of the privacy of citizens particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorised search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices.
All FSARS, STS, IRT & other Tactical @PoliceNG Squads operating at Federal, Zonal & Command levels are hereby BANNED from carrying out routine patrols & other conventional low-risk duties – stop & search duties, checkpoints, roadblocks, traffic checks, etc – WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT pic.twitter.com/9xWQJhTDOP
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) October 4, 2020
He said the personnel were to concentrate and respond only to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes when the need arises.
The IG said the FSARS and other Police Tactical Squads remain a critical component of the Force in confronting prevailing and emerging violent crimes in the country.
He however, condemned every act of unprofessionalism, abuse of human rights and high handedness by some personnel of the Squads.
The IG, 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.
He urged the monitoring unit to ensure prompt arrest, investigation and prosecution of all erring police officers who would violate these directives and other extant regulations of the Force.
Adamu said the Commissioners of Police in charge of FSARS, State Commands and their supervisory Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police, would be held liable for any misconduct within their Area of Responsibility (AOR).
The IG therefore, urged them to ensure effective supervision and mentoring of the personnel of the Tactical Squads under their jurisdiction.
Adamu said two operatives of the FSARS and their civilian accomplice operating in Lagos State were arrested by the Lagos State Police Command, for acts of professional misconduct including extortion and intimidation of innocent citizens.
He said the operational vehicle of the men had also been impounded adding that, disciplinary procedure had already commenced against the defaulters.
The IG pledged to bequeath to Nigerians, a reformed Police Force that would be accountable, responsible and ever ready to defend and uphold the rights of citizens in the course of their duties.
Long line of complaints
The ban on SARS patrol comes amidst complaints from mostly young Nigerians flooding social media with #EndSars #SARSBrutality.
The complaints range from extortion and intimidation to outright killing.
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has expressed concern over the exploitation of youths in the country by SARS operatives.
Recently, Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu tweeted to condemn the alleged shooting of young man in front of a hotel in Ughelli by some SARS operatives.
The policeman is said to have driven away in a white Lexus SUV belonging to his victim.
The police action sparked outrage on social media, with many Nigerians condemning the police action and calling for urgent reforms.