*Restricts squad to robberies, kidnappings
By Chesa Chesa
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris, to immediately overhaul the management and activities of the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Police.
According to a presidency statement released on Tuesday, the police boss was directed to act on the directive with “immediate effect”; and it followed persistent complaints from the public and reports on the activities of the SARS that border on allegations of serial human rights violations.
The statement said Osinbajo also directed the IGP to ensure that any Unit that will emerge from the overhaul 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”.
The Acting President ordered that all operatives in the emerging Unit to conduct their operations in strict adherence to the rule of law and with due regard to International Human Rights Law and the constitutionally guaranteed rights of suspects; while “the operatives should also bear proper identification anytime they are on duty”.
In the meantime, the Acting President directed the National Human Rights Commission to set up a Special Panel that will conduct an investigation of the alleged unlawful activities of SARS in order to afford members of the general public the opportunity to present their grievances with a view to ensuring redress.
The activities of SARS had been severally condemned by members of the public as having overstepped its mandate while abusing the rights of innocent citizens.
The complaints had recently climaxed with a social media campaign tagged #EndSARS by some activists with the intention of forcing the government to overhaul the squad.