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News - Security - Thematterspress - October 11, 2020

Aftermath of protests: Nigeria scraps anti-robbery squad


Tanko Mohammed

Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohammed Adamu, has dissolve the sub-unit of the force, the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), as public outcry against the police increases.
Adamu made the announcement on Sunday, October 11, 2020 days after series of protests calling for a scrapping of the 30,000 man strong unit rages.

“The Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police, otherwise known as SARS, is hereby dissolved across all formations, the 36 state police command and the Federal Capital Territory where they currently exists,” the IGP said.

Adamu pledged that a new policing arrangement to address anticipated policing gaps by the dissolution of SARS had evolved and would be announced in due course.

According to him, as part of measures to prevent a recurrence of events that gave rise to the dissolution of SARS, a ‘Citizens’ and Strategic Stakeholders’ Forum’ is being formed.

He said the forum would regularly interface with police leadership at all levels and advise on police activities as they affect the general public.

“In addition, the force is constituting an Investigation Team which shall include Civil Society Organisations and Human Rights Bodies to work with the Police in investigating alleged cases of human rights violations.

“The measure, will enhance transparency and accountability in police services as well as provide a system of deterrence for erring police officers whose action clearly violates the rights of citizens,” he said.

He commended Nigerians, who genuinely expressed their concerns for a better policing orientation in an organised, patriotic and civil manner.

Adamu pledged the commitment of the force to bequeath to the country, a Police Force and System that is accountable and professional in service delivery.

Amplifying the IGP’s announcement, the Force Public Relations Office, Force Headquarters, Mr Frank Mba, noted that “the dissolution of SARS is in response to the yearnings of the Nigerian people”.

Mba, therefore, assured that that a new policing arrangement to address anticipated policing gaps which the dissolution of SARS would cause, has been evolved and shall be announced in due course.

Nigerians, especially those in the Southern states have been calling for the scrapping of the unit which they accused of brutality, extortion, killings and inimical to human rights.

The protests were fuelled by social media campaign against the outfit are calling for the scrapping of SARS, reforms in the police and the prosecution of officers involved in both past and present brutality.

The announcement of the scrapping of the unit came as youths in Katsina, Zamfara and Kano states in the north also hit the streets in support of the unit.

Katsina youths in their numbers on Sunday took to the streets protesting in support of SARS but that it should be reformed rather than end their activities.

They say that SARS was assisting in the fight against banditry and other criminal elements in the society.

Also some groups in Zamfara are staging peaceful protests in support of SARS in the state.

The groups known as Coalition of network of NGOs in Zamfara say the feel SARS is doing well.

Also the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations in Kano wants the Federal Government to reform the Special Anti-Robbery Squad SARS not to scrap the police unit.

The leader of the group, Mr Abdullahi Ali, made the call at a press conference on the”ENDSARS” Campaign in Kano on Sunday.

The coalition is calling on the federal government to reform instead of banning the unit.

Arewa Youth Consultative Council, a socio-political body of the 19 northern states, also disagreed with the protesters call scrapping of SARS and called for complete reorganisation of the police.

A statement signed by the National Media Coordinator, Mr Muhammad Ibrahim, said they were not comfortable with the call for the scrapping of a unit that fights robbers at a time that Nigeria is battling robberies, kidnapping, banditry, rustling and ethnic violence.

He said: “SARS is a unit in Force Criminal investigation and intelligence department and some members of SARS may be accused of theft, rape, torture, unlawful arrests, extortion and even killings but no law enforcement agency is 100 per cent clean.’’

“If we have to be highly rational and reasonable, instead of scrapping SARS to end up with to end up with security deterioration and waste of billions to set up and train another unit, why don’t we chew the bitter pills and spit out the waste while redesigning a structural strategy for effectiveness, resourcefulness for efficiency to serve Nigerians better,’’ he said.

Another socio-political group in Bauchi, Northern Youth Assembly of Nigeria (NYAN), advised the inspector General of Police against scrapping SARS in the interest of peace and stability of the nation.

Mr Ukkasha Hamza the speaker of the group, said on Sunday SARS plays significant role in promotion of security especially along the highways.

He said the outfit needed reforms to operate and conform with normal rules of engagements as well the contemporary democratic ideals by respecting and upholding the fundamental rights of the citizenry.

President Mohammed Buhari in company of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo summoned the on Friday night over the nationwide protests.

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