The unbundling of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) teams across the country has been announced by the Nigeria Police. The force’s command will now be centralized and henceforth known as the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), a name introduced in 2016 by former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Solomon Arase. This is in compliance with the directives of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) that SARS should be overhauled.
A statement by spokesman Jimoh Moshood said the IGP Ibrahim Idris has appointed a new Commissioner in-charge of FSARS, who will report to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) Operations and no longer the Federal Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID).
Moshood said: “In observance of full compliance with the presidential directives, the FSARS will be intelligence driven and restricted to the prevention and detection of robbery, kidnapping and the apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences only.
“New FSARS commanders are being appointed across the country that will now exist and operate in the state and zonal commands under the Commissioner of Police (FSARS) 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.
“All commissioners of police have been directed by the Inspector-General to comply with this directive with immediate effect and warn their personnel not to pose as SARS operatives.
“The IGP X-Squad and Monitoring units have been mandated to go round the commands and police formations nationwide to ensure compliance with the presidential directives and apprehend any erring police officer.
“A new standard operational guidelines and procedures, and code of conduct for FSARS personnel to ensure that the operations of the FSARS 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:
“Human rights desk officers for FSARS in every state to take complaints from the public and forward 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.
“Medical/psychological evaluation of FSARS personnel will be carried out. Redesigning of new uniform with identity name tag for all FSARS personnel throughout the country will be done immediately.
“Henceforth, FSARS personnel will not perform stop and search duties, except on distress call to respond to armed robbery and kidnapping offences only.”
Continuing, he said the police would be transparent, cooperate and work with the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) on the special panel that would conduct an investigation of the alleged unlawful activities of FSARS to address grievances from the public against the personnel of FSARS, in compliance with the presidential directives.
“A committee of senior police officers, technical consultants, human rights/civil society organisations (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 and submit report to the Inspector-General of Police on a regular basis.
“However, aggrieved members of the public, who have any complaint in the past or present of violation of their rights by any SARS personnel anywhere in the country, are to report for investigation and redress.”