#EndSARS: Federal Government bans rogue Nigerian Police Unit amid Police Bill row

#EndSARS: Federal Government bans rogue Nigerian Police Unit amid Police Bill row

Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police has banned the notorious police unit known as the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) from carrying out stop-and-search duties and setting up roadblocks amid growing anger at routine harassment and atrocities allegedly committed by its officers.

Mohammed Adamu also said members of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) must always wear uniforms.

The hashtag #EndSARS and #EndSARSNow has trending on Twitter, triggered by the alleged killing of a young man by officers from the unit in the city of Lagos on Saturday. This comes on the heels of the hashtag #SayNoToPoliceBill which began trending after it became news that President Buhari had signed into law the Nigeria Police Force Establishment bill, which has been interpreted to mean a legalization of police harassment in Nigeria.

Many Nigerians have been using the hashtags to share stories of brutality attributed to the police unit.

Lagos Governor Sanwo-Olu tweeted on Sunday: “Appropriate actions will be taken, and speedily too.”

Following that, a press release was tweeted out by the Nigerian Presidency, banning all “FSARS, STS, IRT and other Tactical Police Squads operating at Federal, Zonal and Command levels … from carrying out routine patrols and other concentional low-risk duties – stop and search duties, checkpoints, roadblocks, traffic checks etc – with IMMEDIATE EFFECT.”

These tactical police units have also been banned from “invasion of privacy of citizens particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorized search of mobiles, laptops and smart devices,” Mr Adamu said in the statement on Sunday.

They should, he said, focus on cases of armed robberies, kidnapping and other violent crimes. He also said that police commissioners and commanders would be held liable for misconduct of officers in the areas they are in charge of.

In 2018, then acting president Yemi Osinbajo ordered an immediate reorganization of SARS after months of public outcry. This directive was followed by a statement from Inspector General Ibrahim Idris, ordering all formations of the police to comply with Osinbajo’s directive, also saying that a special squad has been charged with monitoring observance and apprehending erring officers.

However, little, if any, changes occurred, according to an Amnesty International investigation published in June. The rights group accused SARS officers of using “torture and other ill-treatment to execute, punish and extract information from suspects.” It documented 82 cases between January 2017 and May 2020. Amnesty found the group allegedly targeted men between the ages of 17 and 30.

“Young men with dreadlocks, ripped jeans, tattoos, flashy cars or expensive gadgets are frequently targeted by SARS,” the organisation said.

“The Nigerian authorities must go beyond lip service and ensure there is real reform,” Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said about the findings.

Check out the statement released by the government regarding the ban on SARS below:

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3 Comments

  1. Mandy
    October 05, 22:43 Reply

    SMH. We need a revolution in this country. This SARS epidemic has GOT TO GO!!!

  2. Fred
    October 06, 06:48 Reply

    The new police law is just as bad as SARS .
    There’s no real end to police brutality in Nigeria especially seeing that the new law doesn’t hold police officers responsible for loss of lives and property.

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