Governors of the 36 states of the federation, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, have lauded the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, for his decision to ban with immediate effect the operations of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, FSARS and a range of other Tactical Squads of the Force from routine patrol.
The governors’ reaction came as the Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, expressed concern over the incessant report of infractions against personnel of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, vowing to thoroughly investigate allegations against them, with a view to bringing them to justice.
According to the governors, news of the decision of the IGP was received with great relief and satisfaction.
The governors in a statement signed by NGF Chairman, who is also Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, read: “We also completely agree with the directive of the IGP that no personnel of the Force is authorized to embark on patrols or tactical assignments in mufti forthwith.
“This, in our view, will significantly reduce the various infractions of the Force that the ordinary Nigerian people have been complaining about and bring an end to the menace of SARS brutality on the people they are meant to protect.
“The IGP’s instructions could not have come at a better time when majority of Nigerians are unhappy with this cohort of police officers who have routinely engaged in unlawful killings and torture, thereby giving the Force a bad name.
“It is helpful to recall that SARS has been cautioned in the same manner before only for it to go back to its old ways.
“Our young people should not be criminalized simply on account of how they look or their mode of dressing or the cars they drive, the type of phone they carry, etc.
This is an assault on their fundamental human rights. “We think this is a timely clinical response by the leadership of the Nigerian Police Force and must specially commend IGP Adamu for his promptness and boldness.
However, it is our hope that the announcement this time will promptly be followed by action and that there will be no reversal to the unorthodox enforcement practices being complained against.
“Finally, we call for appropriate sanctions against law enforcement officers that have been lawless and irresponsible in the exercise of their duties against ordinary Nigerians.”
On his part, the Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, assured Nigerians of his commitments to ensure a comprehensive investigation of all allegations of infractions against SARS personnel and other police operational units.
The minister in a statement signed by his Press Secretary, Mr. Osaigbovo E, said the thorough investigation was to secure justice for the victims and reprimand erring officers involved in such violation of citizens’ right and unprofessional conduct.
The statement read: “Consequently, the Minister has asked the leadership of Nigeria Police to strengthen outfits responsible for monitoring activities of police personnel to bring about professional and improved service delivery.
“He noted that the recent call for scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad is a strong feedback mechanism to beam deep search light into SARS’ activities in order to reform the unit for better efficiency.’
Maigari noted further that the incident in Ughelli area of Delta State was perpetrated by operatives of a unit different from SARS, and admonished Nigerians to be circumspect in calling for outright disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad set up to tackle armed robbery & other violent crimes in Nigeria.
He noted that some measures aimed at curtailing the excesses of SARS personnel were already announced by the Inspector General of Police at the weekend.
He added that the newly inaugurated Servicom Unit of the ministry had been mandated to work closely with the Police Public Complaint Unit and relevant department of the Police Service Commission to fast-track resolution of all cases of infraction against policemen, with a view to bringing erring officers to book to serve as deterrent to others.
The minister assured Nigerians that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was committed to democratic tenets which emphasizes justice, citizens’ welfare and frowned on violation of citizens rights in what ever guise.
Recall that the Inspector General of Police, Mohammaed Adamu, had on Sunday banned SARS operatives and other police tactical squads from routine patrols. Ghe also warned the commissioner in charge of SARS and state command police commissioners over misconducts of the operatives, stressing that they would be held liable for the infractions of their operatives.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Mr Imohimi Edgal, yesterday, took steps to implement the order of the IGP. Edgal told journalists in Lagos that henceforth, no personnel of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad, FSARS, will be issued firearms except for guard duties, at base and to respond to violent crimes as they occur.
He stated that all FSARS teams on routine patrol had been withdrawn in compliance with IGP’s directive.
He said: “In other to improve on the efficiency and effectiveness of FEDSARS and ensure that they uphold the fundamental rights of the citizens, we have drawn up a training/capacity workshop which will kick off this week in Abuja in collaboration with our civilian partners and non governmental organisations, NGO’s aimed at emphasizing the rule of law and fundamental rights of Nigerians.”
He further said that no FSARS personnel would henceforth attend to any violent crimes except he was kitted in his approved jacket to guide members of the public.
“Only FSARS operatives have the right to wear a jacket with the inscription ‘FSARS’. All other state Special Anti Robbery Squads, SARS, which are commanded by state commissioners of police are to wear the inscription SARS without F,’’ he said.
Edgal called on state commissioners to join hands to ensure total success of all the directives and reforms regarding FSARS and SARS operations by the IGP.
He re-assured members of the public that the era of ‘slap on the wrist or cover ups’ of any policeman caught involving himself in any matter that will tarnish the image of the force was over.
“Henceforth, maximum disciplinary penalty awaits such policemen,” he stated.