The Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police Force, Mohammed Adamu, has once again announced new measures to reorganised the Special Anti-Robbery Squad across the country.
Mohammed banned SARS and other units from carrying out routine patrols and other conventional low-risk duties, including stop and search duties with immediate effect.
This announcement comes after an outcry from Nigerians over the ongoing extrajudicial activities of SARS operatives.
While this directive was meant to douse the tension created by the illegal activities of SARS, SaharaReporters has gathered that previous moves to make the unit more effective had not yielded any tangible results so far.
As the police authority rarely punishes erring SARS operatives, many Nigerians believe the police discreetly transfer such officers to another state where they soon continue their nefarious activities.
In December 2017, when the agitation to disband SARS gained momentum, the then IGP Ibrahim Idris announced measures to reorganise SARS.
Similar to the new directive by the current IGP, Idris had said that SARS would be banned from conducting stop and search operations except when necessary and warned SARS operatives against acting as bodyguards or getting involved in civil disputes.
Then in August 2018, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo directed Idris to overhaul SARS and stop the police officers from engaging in arbitrary arrest and civil matters.
A statement from Osinbajo’s office read: “Following persistent complaints and reports on the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) that border on allegations of human rights violations, His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN, Acting-President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, has directed the Inspector General of Police to, with immediate effect, overhaul the management and activities of SARS and ensure that any unit that will emerge from the process will be intelligence-driven and restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery and kidnapping, and apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences, and nothing more.”
Again in September 2018, Idris ordered SARS to stop the random searching of people’s phones immediately.
“You are barred from searching handsets and laptops of innocent citizens, unless the search is directly linked to a case or directed by IGP or any person or persons he so delegated,” Idris said.
He also said SARS officers who detained a suspect beyond 48 hours without recourse to the court risked being dismissed.
Later in January 2019, following yet another public outcry, Adamu ordered a total reorganisation of SARS.
He promised a comprehensive reform both in terms of ethics, mode of operation, nomenclature and orientation, function delineation, command and control, weaponry and accountability mechanism will be undertaken in SARS.
He said a protocol that would document the outcome of the reform would be developed adding that the protocol would become the standard operating procedure of the unit which would be engaged for the performance evaluation in aid of the accountability process and disciplinary concerns.
Then in February 2020, Adamu ordered the disbandment of satellite offices of SARS.
He pointed out that dissolving SARS offices was part of an ongoing reorganisation.