The Inspector-General of Police in Nigeria, Mohammed Adamu, has announced the disbandment of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force. He said the operatives would be redeployed to other police formations and commands. It is important to note that this is the fourth time in as many years this announcement, or one similar to it, has been made.
The IGP announced this in a live broadcast on Sunday (11th October 2020), after a series of protest led by the youth in Nigeria against the extrajudicial killings and unwarranted harassment from SARS officials. The Police Inspector guaranteed Nigerians of a determination to accelerate reforms of the Police system, saying: “I assure the nation of our firm determination to advance our police reform agenda, with a view to bequeathing to our beloved nation, a police institution and system that are not only accountable to the citizens but professional in all components of its service delivery. I call on all citizens to partner us in our drive for a peaceful and secure internal security order.”
This is an excerpt from his speech on Sunday:
“The current development in which cross-sections of Nigerians are calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad as a unit in the Nigerian Police Force has remained under constant monitoring and due assessment by the government. “The government acknowledges the inalienable rights of citizens to freedom of association and expression. The current agitation, in this context, is seen as a manifestation of the natural desire of citizens to participate in matters concerning policing and internal security in the nation. This is, indeed, one of the fundamental principles of community policing, which we are currently implementing. “The Nigerian Police leadership has since the commencement of the protests, been engaging the leadership of some civil society organizations, with a view to initiating meaningful and wide-ranging discussions on the subjects of their concern.
“Our valued covenant with the citizens of this nation is to serve and protect them and integrate their concerns and views into our practices, especially within the dictates of community policing principles, which constitute a critical component of the National Policing and Internal Security Strategy of the federal government.
“Following a review of the current developments, and in due cognizance of the wide and legitimately held concerns of well-meaning citizens on the existence and operations of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, as a responsive and citizens-oriented Police Force, it is hereby directed as follows: “The Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police, otherwise known as SARS, is hereby dissolved across all formations, the 36 states police commands, and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, where they currently exist.
“All officers and men currently serving in the unit are to be deployed with immediate effect. New policing arrangements to address the offences of armed robbery and other violent crimes that fall within the mandate of the dissolved SARS shall be presented in due course.
“A citizen and strategic stakeholder forum will be formed to regularly interface with the leadership of the Police at all levels and advice on police activities. To deal with the reports of crimes committed against citizens, an investigation team will be constituted which will include civil society organizations for transparency, and culprits will be punished.
“I commend the vast majority of men and women of the Nigerian Police who are diligently going about their duties, guided by the dictates of the rule of law, honour, and professionalism. I encourage them to sustain their sense of national service, sacrifice, patriotism, and commitment to crime-fighting.
“Their gallant efforts to ensure the safety of the lives and property of all Nigerians are very much appreciated. I also commend all citizens that have voiced their genuine concerns for a better policing orientation in an organized, patriotic, and civil manner. “I assure the nation of our firm determination to advance our police reform agenda, with a view to bequeathing to our beloved nation, a police institution and system that are not only accountable to the citizens but professional in all components of its service delivery. I call on all citizens to partner us in our drive for a peaceful and secure internal security order.”
On one hand, after the announcement of the disbandment, to some it was a big sigh of relief, that at last as youths and citizens of a democratic society the people’s voice could be heard, a step in the proper direction. While on the other hand, some youths took to their social media platforms stating that “we don’t want the same old guys given a new name and new uniforms” as they also demanded the prosecution of guilty officers of the defunct SARS Police Unit involved in the Extortion, Killing and Maltreatment of Nigerians.
The #EndSARS Protest which involved notable celebrities and stars from the entertainment industry has lasted for up to five days across most Nigerian cities with cases of assault, violence and death by the Police recorded in some parts of the country. On Social Media, the campaign against the SARS Unit and Police brutality reached a whole new level entirely as the online media protest garnered interest from the international community with the #endSARS hashtag which, at a point, was the most trending tag in the world on Twitter, this prompted a similar protest in other cities across the world.
In an attempt to further ensure maximum efficiency and service to the people, IGP Adamu added that “A Citizens’ and Strategic Stakeholders’ Forum is being formed to regularly interface with the Police Leadership at all Levels and advise on police activities as they affect the general public. The Force is constituting an Investigation Team which shall include Civil Society Organizations and Human Rights Bodies to work with the Police in investigating alleged cases of human rights violations,” as reported by PREMIUM TIMES.
This new measure, they hope, will enhance transparency and accountability in Police services as well as providing a system of deterrence for erring police officers whose action clearly violates the rights of the citizenry.
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