The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, has slammed a ban on operatives of Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) in Nigeria.
The ban is also extended to other Tactical Squads of the Force, Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Anti-Cultism Squad and other Tactical Squads at the Federal, Zonal and Command levels, that carry out routine patrols and other conventional low-risk duties.
A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, Sunday enumerated such duties to include stop -and- search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks and traffic checks, among others.
In addition, no personnel of the Force is authorised to embark on patrols or tactical assignments in mufti, the statement indicated.
“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.
“Specifically, 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.
“They are to concentrate and respond only to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes when the need arises.
“The IGP notes that 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, condemns every act of unprofessionalism, abuse of human rights and high-handedness by some personnel of the Squads.
“He 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.
“The IGP has equally warned, that henceforth, the Commissioner of Police in charge of FSARS, Commissioners of Police in charge of State Commands and the FCT as well as their supervisory Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police, will be held liable for any misconduct within their Area of Responsibility (AOR).
“He therefore charged them to ensure effective supervision and mentoring of the personnel of the Tactical Squads under their jurisdiction.
“Meanwhile, two operatives of the FSARS and their civilian accomplice operating in Lagos State, INSPR Sale James, INSPR Monday Uchiola and Okechukwu Ogbonna, have been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command, for acts of professional misconduct including extortion and intimidation of innocent citizens.
“The operational vehicle of the men has also been impounded and disciplinary procedure has already commenced against the defaulters.”
Anger and frustration have pervaded the social media following the killing of a young man in Delta State by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police.
The matter had trended for the past couple of days on social media with many reliving their experiences at the hands of SARS operatives while others called for outright scrapping of the police unit, showing how strongly Nigerians feel about the development.