Why SARS can’t be scrapped, by Police HQ
Police authorities may not heed the calls for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), it was learnt on Tuesday.
Force Public Relations Officer at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, Frank Mba, said SARS cannot be scrapped because it is still needed to combat armed robbery and other violent crimes across the country.
Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), gave reasons for retaining the outfit during a live Instagram chat with popular Nigerian musician, Azeez Fashola (aka Naira Marley).
The Force spokesman assured Nigerians that more will be done to monitor policemen to ensure the rights of citizens are not violated.
For the citizens to help police authorities to further sanitise the Force, Mba said: “But if a policeman is doing something wrong, you can take pictures and record videos and send them to us. But make sure you do so safely.
“If you feel in your interactions with the police that they are beginning to cross the line, you can take pictures and videos as long as it is safe for you to do so. When you send them to us, we will definitely follow up the matter and see it to a logical conclusion.”
Also, Lagos Police Commissioner Hakeem Odumosu on Tuesday banned the command’s SARS unit from detaining suspects in their cells.
Odumosu spoke on Channels Television morning programme, Sunrise Daily, where he advised residents on the appropriate actions taken to enforce the directives of IGP Adamu on SARS reforms.
“It is going to be different because there will be more monitoring and supervision. The additional directive I gave yesterday (Monday) is that they must not even go to investigate any case without booking their arrival at the Area Commander’s office so that the Area Commander will know that they are in that area doing what they ought to do. Once they finish, they must go back and file entry.
“Secondly, I gave a directive that they must not detain anybody in their cells any longer. They can only detain at my office or at the Area Commander’s office. And the Area Commander must interview any suspect they want to detain and ascertain that the suspect had done what warranted being detained,” he said.
Enugu State Police Commissioner Ahmad Abdurrahman on Tuesday directed strict compliance to the ban on SARS and other tactical squads from routine and conventional low-risk duties.
Abdurrahman gave the order in a statement in Enugu by the command’s spokesman Daniel Ndukwe, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP).
The commissioner also directed Officers-in-Charge of SARS, Anti-Cultism Squad and Anti-Kidnapping Unit of the command to henceforth desist from posting operatives to perform the banned duties.
He warned that anything in the contrary would be met with severe disciplinary actions.
In case of any breach, he said: “Residents should call the command’s emergency hotlines on 08032003702, 08086671202, 08075390883 or 08098880172; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Amnesty International (AI) on Tuesday offered tips on how Nigeria can reform SARS.
AI said the key to reforming the police unit is to empower oversight bodies, including the Police Service Commission (PSC), Committee Against Torture and the National Human Rights Commission.
These bodies, it explained, would investigate and initiate prosecution of police officers involved in human rights violations.
In a statement, AI accused Nigerian of failing to show “a genuine commitment to ending” the problem, adding that without such actions, the menace would persist.
A group, Alliance for Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), has accused IGP Adamu of insincerity in his latest ban of SARS.
In a statement on Tuesday by its Chairman, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), ASCAB said: “The police high command had banned SARS several times in the past. It has become a ritual. But SARS continues to operative under different names or structure.
“What we see is like removing sour wine and putting it in the same old, rusty bottles. Nothing remarkable has changed in the police command structure that aids all forms of repression and extra-judicial killings.”