FSARS Extra-judicial killings, brutality, torture and other menacing conduct

The full meaning of SARS is Special Anti-Robbery Squad. 

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is a Police unit set up to fight violent crimes such as Armed Robbery, Kidnappings, and Cattle Rustling in Nigeria. 

It turns out that this Nigerian Police unit is rather kidnapping and abusing citizens.

SARS became a problem in Nigeria after members of the unit were reportedly accused of extra-judicial killings, brutality, torture, and other menacing conduct.

The Inspector-General of Police in Nigeria ordered an immediate reorganization of SARS, but nothing has been done.

A campaign, #EndSARS was launched on social media to end the act. 

The Acting Inspector General of Police of Nigeria Mohammed Adamu disbands Federal SARS, Special Investigation Panel, and Special Tactical Squad. Based on this new order, Special Anti-Robbery Squad will be for each of the 36 states and will operate at given points; the commissioners of Police will supervise such an operation closely.

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On Monday, the IGP made this announcement inside a conference with Commissioners of Police and other senior officers at Abuja. 

The former IGP, Ibrahim Idris, formed the IGP Special Investigation Panel and IGP Special Tactical Squad and also put the operations of SARS together with Federal SARS. 

President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Mohammed Adamu on January 15, 2019, to replace Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris that retired.

The End Special Anti-Robbery Squad (END SARS) is an advocacy group opposing the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit of Nigeria’s Police Force.

The campaign started as a social media campaign using the hashtag #ENDSARS to demand Nigeria’s Government to scrap and end the deployment of Nigeria Police Force Special Anti-Robbery Squad, popularly known as SARS.

Nigerians have shared stories of how members of SARS engaged in unlawful arrests, high-handedness, humiliation, illegal detention, and extortion. A petition signed by 10,195 people was submitted to Nigeria’s National Assembly, calling for the scrapping of SARs. In recent times, there has been talked of reforms of the Force, instead of full disbandment.

Protests and controversy

Moving the campaign from social media to Nigeria’s streets, the campaigners organized a series of protests in Abuja. 

The campaigners threatened to go on protest if the Government fails to scrap SARS.

The campaign generated controversies when the Nigeria Police Force Public Relations Officer Jimoh Moshood, accused the campaigners of being “criminals.” 

The Inspector-General of Nigeria Police Force, Ibrahim K. Idris, has ordered the SARS reform and reorganization. 

Nigeria’s Senate backed the call for scrapping SARS. 

Background

SARS is a branch of the Nigeria Police Force under the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID).

It deals with armed robbery, car snatching, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and crimes associated with firearms. 

SARS officers carry guns, but do not wear Nigerian police uniforms, nor do they wear badges. 

An international human right organization known as Amnesty International accused SARS officers of detaining young Nigerians illegally and extorting money from their relations. 

The latest news on FSARS

According to the police spokesman, ACP Frank Mba, a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, he said the FSARS was decentralized to correct the abnormality, restore order, and bring the Police closer to the people.

“It will correct every anomaly, bureaucratic bottleneck &bring the Police close to the people. The IGP is committed to this willpower & has directed the command CPs on his policy direction in this regard,” Mba said.

He said, “Decentralization of SARS ensures the unity of command and control and in line with democratic and community policing. I am just a tip of the iceberg amongst many reforms IGP MA ADAMU mind is bringing in the Force

“We are committed to giving Nigerians the best security arrangement in the general election with equal playing ground & adequate security. As the lead agency in internal security, we will work with other security and safety agencies to ensure a safe and secure environment”.

ACP Mba said the decentralization directions of Ag. IGP MA Adamu is constitutional, arguing that Section 215 of the constitution explains this initiative.

The police spokesman said the move is just “a tip of the iceberg among very many reforms IGP Mohammed Adamu is bringing in the Force.”

He further stressed that the decentralization of FSARS would bring the Police close to the people and reduces hiccups.

The immediate past IGP, Ibrahim Idris, had centralized operations of SARS into FSARS at the force headquarters and placed it under the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations), as part of the reforms of the squad.

The decentralization has since stirred debates, but Mba assured that all that the new initiative seeks to achieve to make the Police more accessible to the people.

The Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the immediate disbandment of the Federal SARS, Special Investigation Panel and Special Tactical Squad.

He announced this on Monday at his inaugural conference with Commissioners of Police and other senior officers in Abuja.

Based on the new directive, there will now be a Special Anti-Robbery Squad domiciled in each of the 36 states under the Commissioners of Police’s direct supervision.

The IGP Special Investigation Panel and IGP Special Tactical Squad were established by the former IGP, Ibrahim Idris, who also centralized SARS operations into Federal SARS. 

The Nigeria Police Force has announced the overhaul of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) following a directive by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

The changes were announced on Tuesday in a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood.

See the full statement below:

RE- PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE ON IMMEDIATE OVERHAUL OF SPECIAL ANTI-ROBBERY SQUAD FSARS

IGP IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE HAS ORDERED IMMEDIATE OVERHAULING OF SPECIAL ANTI-ROBBERY SQUAD (SARS) ACROSS THE COUNTRY·

THE OUTFIT WILL NOW BE KNOWN AS FEDERAL SPECIAL ANTI-ROBBERY SQUAD (FSARS). 

ALL SARS TEAMS NATIONWIDE HAVE BEEN COLLAPSED UNDER FSARS·

A NEW COMMISSIONER OF POLICE HAS BEEN APPOINTED AS THE OVERALL HEAD OF THE FEDERAL SPECIAL ANTI-ROBBERY SQUAD NATIONWIDE.

The Inspector-General of Police in compliance with the Presidential directives has ordered the immediate overhauling of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to address complaints and allegations on human rights violations against some of the personnel of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) from members of the public in some parts of the Country.

2. In the new arrangement, a new Commissioner of Police has been appointed as the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad’s overall head nationwide.

3. The Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad previously under the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (FCIID) is henceforth to operate under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja. The Commissioner of Police (FSARS) is answerable to the Inspector General of Police through the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Department of Operations.

4. In observance of full compliance with the Presidential directives, the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad will be intelligence-driven and restricted to the prevention and detection of Armed Robbery, kidnapping, and the apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offenses only.

5. New FSARS Commanders are appointed for the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) across the country that will now exist and operate in the State and Zonal Commands under the Commissioner of Police (F-SARS) at the Force Headquarters, Abuja. 

A Federal SARS Commander of a Rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) but not below Superintendent of Police (SP) will be in charge of FSARS in State and Zonal Commands.

6. All Commissioners of Police have been directed by the Inspector General of Police to comply with this directive with immediate effect and warn their personnel not to pose SARS operatives. The IGP X-Squad and Monitoring Unit have been mandated to go round the Commands and Police Formations nationwide to ensure strict compliance with the Presidential directives and apprehend any erring police officer.

7. A new Standard Operational Guidelines and Procedures, and code of conduct for all FSARS personnel to ensure that the operations of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad are in strict adherence to the rule of law and with due regards to international human rights law and constitutionally guaranteed rights of suspects will be enforced in totality by the Commissioner of Police, FSARS. Other measures to be implemented by the Force in observance of full compliance with the presidential directives are as follows:

i. Human Rights Desk Officers for FSARS in every State to take complaints from the public and forward the same to Force Headquarters. The officer will be answerable to the Commissioner of Police, FSARS at the Force Headquarters, and not Commander FSARS in the States.

ii. Medical/Psychological evaluation of all FSARS personnel will be carried out immediately.

iii. Redesigning new uniforms with identity name tags for all FSARS personnel throughout the Country will be done quickly.

iv. Henceforth, FSARS personnel will not perform Stop and Search duties except on distress calls to respond to armed robbery and kidnapping offenses only.

8. The Force will be transparent, cooperate, and work cordially with the National Human Rights Commission on the special panel that will investigate the alleged unlawful activities of FSARS to address grievances from the public against the personnel of FSARS in compliance with the presidential directives.

9. Furthermore, a new training program to be organized by the Force in collaboration with some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Local and International NGOs, and other Human Rights Organizations on core Police Duties, Observant of Human Rights and Handling, Care and Custody of Suspects have been directed by the Inspector General of Police for all Federal SARS personnel nationwide with immediate effect.

10. A committee of Senior Police officers, Technical Consultants, Human Rights/Civil Society organizations (CSOs) has been set up to review the activities of FSARS under the new arrangement. They are to pay unscheduled visits to FSARS formations across the Country with particular attention to States with high complaints index to assess facilities and situations in these states and submit a report to the Inspector General of Police regularly.

11. However, aggrieved public members who have complaints both past and present of violation of their rights by any Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) personnel anywhere in the Country are to report through any of the following channels for investigation and redress.

The changes are aimed at addressing repeated allegations of human rights violations leveled against SARS personnel by Nigerians.

“In the new arrangement, a new Commissioner of Police has been appointed as the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad’s overall head nationwide,” Moshood said.

The Commissioner of Police (FSARS) is answerable to the Inspector General of Police through the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Department of Operations. The IGP also altered FSARS’ mode of operation.

Before the overhaul, the FSARS was under the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (FCIID). As part of the changes, it would now operate under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja.

Explaining the changes further, Moshood said, “New FSARS Commanders are being appointed for the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) across the Country that will now exist and operate in the State and Zonal Commands under the Commissioner of Police (F-SARS) at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.

“A Federal SARS Commander of a Rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) but not below Superintendent of Police (SP) will be in charge of FSARS in State and Zonal Commands across the Country.

In his directive to the IGP for the overhaul of SARS, the Acting President asked him to ensure that any unit that emerges from the overhaul is intelligence-driven, restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery, kidnapping, apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offenses, and nothing more.

According to Moshood, this is also reflected in the changes made.

“In observance of full compliance with the Presidential directives, the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad will be intelligence-driven and will be restricted to the prevention and detection of Armed Robbery, kidnapping and the apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offenses only,” he said.

According to Moshood, steps have been taken to monitor the operations of FSARS to ensure that it complies strictly with the Presidential directives.

“All Commissioners of Police have been directed by the Inspector General of Police to comply with this directive with immediate effect and warn their personnel not to pose as SARS operatives,” he said.

“The IGP X-Squad and Monitoring Unit have been mandated to go round the Commands and Police Formations nationwide to ensure strict compliance with the Presidential directives and apprehend any erring police officer.”

The Special Intervention Force, comprises Five units of the Police Mobile Force (PMF) specially trained Anti-Riot Policemen, Five Cells of Counter Terrorism Unit, Conventional Policemen, Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Intelligence Response Team, Technical Intelligence Unit, SIB, detachment of EOD, Police K9 (Sniffer Dogs Section), with their Headquarters in Ile-Ife.

They would be led by the Commissioner of Police in charge of PMF, Force Headquarters, Abuja, and their operations would cover the entire Ile-Ife and environs, and another flash/trouble spots in Osun State.

It was disclosed in a statement signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Jimoh O. Moshood.

Furthermore, the statement revealed that the Police Special Intervention Forces are already working in synergy with the Osun State Police Command to ensure that total peace and normalcy is restored and sustained in Ile-Ife and environs.

“To achieve success in the operations, the Force will be proactive and strict in enforcing its mandates, Police standard operations procedures, and rule of engagement. The Force will ensure the full enforcement of the curfew imposed on Ile-Ife and environs by the Osun state government.

“The personnel of the Police Special Intervention Force will carry out 24 hours surveillance and patrol, stop and search; continuous raids of identified criminal hideouts and black spots, to arrest promptly trouble makers, their sponsors and nip in the bud, any further attempt to cause violence and other criminalities in the general area.

“The personnel’s deployment will equally cover communities, towns, villages, vulnerable points, Government and private infrastructures and facilities in Ile-Ife and environs.

“Joint Investigation Team made up of personnel of Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, (FSARS), SIP and Osun State Police Command CIID headed by an experienced Commissioner of Police under the supervision of Deputy Inspector General of Police (FCIID), are already in Ile-Ife and have succeeded in arresting the arrow-head and principal suspect including some of his thugs that caused the death of most of the innocent victims.”

Idris, therefore, called on citizens to support security officials in eliminating crime in the State.

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