In compliance with presidential directive for the overhaul of the much criticised Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, on Tuesday announced a series of makeover measures to give the police branch a new image.
The squad has been renamed FSARS (Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad) under the command of a new commissioner of police that is yet to be named.
He will oversee the running of the squad nationwide and operate under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters, Abuja.
All officers under the remodelled FSARS will undergo immediately “Medical/Psychological evaluation” euphemism for psychiatric test to check their mental health.
The Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, hitherto 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) will now be answerable to the Inspector General of Police through the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Department of Operations.
The re-organisation swiftly announced Tuesday hours after a directive by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, followed incessant complaints by the public about widespread human rights violations by policemen attached to SARS. There were also reports of extra-judicial killings, leading to campaigns in social media with the hashtag #EndSARS.
“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 offences only”, said Jimoh Moshood, an acting deputy commissioner of police in a statement.
” 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.
“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. 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.
“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 is 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.
The police also listed other measures that will be enforced in compliance with the new order.
One of them is the establishment of 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.
* 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.
* The Force will be transparent, cooperate, and work cordially with the National Human Right Commission on the special panel that will 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.
The Inspector-general of Police has also directed a new training programme for all FSARS personnel to be organised by the Force in collaboration with some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Local and International NGOs, and other Human Rights Organisations on core Police Duties, Observance of Human Rights and Handling, Care and Custody of Suspects.
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 in these States and submit report to the Inspector General of Police on regular basis.
However, aggrieved members of the public who have any complaint in the past or 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:
*DIG, Department of Operations: 08037025670
*IGP X-SQUAD: 0902 690 0729, 08078662130, 08174041000 – CALLS
0903 227 8905 – SMS 0903 562 1377 – whatsapp Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
*IGP Monitoring Unit: email@example.com, 08036242591
*Commissioner of Police, FSARS: 08033476852
*FORCE PUBLIC COMPLAINT BUREAU 07056792065 Calls/SMS/whatsapp 08088450152 Calls/SMS/whatsapp
*PUBLIC COMPLAINT RAPID RESPONSE UNIT (PCRRU)
08057000001 – Calls Only 08057000002 – Calls Only 08057000003 – SMS & whatsapp only
* firstname.lastname@example.org, 08027757359
x. email@example.com, 07037887630