By Adewole Kehinde
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo few weeks ago gave a presidential directive to the Inspector General Of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris; ordering an overhaul of the management and activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), across the country.
It may interest the general public that IGP Ibrahim Idris has in December 2017 commenced the reform of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) with the appointment of CP Haliru Gwandu as the Commissioner of Police in charge of Federal SARS with supervision by the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja.
Also, the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) will, from now on, exist and operate in the State and Zonal Commands under the Force Headquarters.
As part of the reorganization, the IGP also directed that a FSARS Commander of the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and not below Superintendent of Police (SP) will be in charge of State and Zonal Commands of FSARS across the Country.
IGP Ibrahim Idris has equally directed all Commissioners of Police to immediately carry out the new directives and warn Police personnel against posing as SARS operatives.
To ensure compliance, the IGP X-Squad and IGP Monitoring Unit has been mandated to go around the State Commands and Police formations nationwide to apprehend defaulters.
I am aware that a new training program on core police duties, respect for human rights and humane handling and care of suspects in custody is almost concluded for all FSARS operatives. The training program is to be conducted in collaboration with civil society organizations, local and international non-governmental organizations and other human rights bodies.
To complement the Presidential directives on the overhaul of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the Deputy Inspector General of Police in Charge Operation, DIG Joshak Habila last Saturday, 18th August, 2018 held meeting with all FSARS Commanders in Nigeria at the Peace Training Center, Police Headquarters, Abuja.
At the meeting, the Presidential directives on SARS Overhaul as issued by Prof Yemi Osinbajo and the content of the new FSARS Organizational Policy Framework and Operational Guidelines and Procedures designed by the Committee was shared with the officers for strict compliance.
The Commissioner of Police in charge of Federal SARS, CP Haliru Gwandu at the resolved that only competent officers will remain as Commanders in new FSARS, those not measuring up to acceptable standard will be redeployed and new courageous officers will be posted as replacements. Many of the personnel inherited will be posted out of FSARS.
It was also resolved that there will be an immediate commencement of physical screening and Psychiatric evaluation of all FSARS officers. FSARS personnel are to operate in full NPF uniform pending the approval of new FSARS outfit by the IGP and distribution of same in the coming days.
I am aware that the SARS Overhaul Committee will commence immediate visit to decongest SARS cells nationwide. FSARS will only handle armed robbery and kidnap cases. IGP X-Squad personnel have commenced enforcement of all new directives as issued by IGP Ibrahim Idris.
Also, the establishment of Human Rights desk at all FSARS bases nationwide is in progress.
The re-organizations and management overhauls that is taking place in FSARS will only be effective when there is adequate funding to carry out Medical/Psychological evaluation of all FSARS personnel; new training program to be organized by the Force in collaboration with some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Local and International NGOs, and other Human Rights Organizations on core Police Duties, Observant of Human Rights and Handling, Care and Custody of Suspects; Redesigning of new uniform with identity name tag for all FSARS personnel throughout the Country and establishment of Human Right Desk across the 36 States and the FCT.
Also, there is avenue now for members of the public who have complaints of rights violations committed by FSARS operatives to lodge reports through a variety of platforms, including telephone and social media. I am also aware that the following communication medium is already active to receive complaint and compliment for the new FSARS: DIG, Department of Operations: 08037025670; IGP X-SQUAD: 0902 690 0729, 08078662130, 08174041000 – CALLS; 0903 227 8905 – SMS, 0903 562 1377 – WhatsApp, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, IGP Monitoring Unit: email@example.com, 08036242591, Commissioner of Police, FSARS: 08033476852 and Force Public Complaint Bureau, 07056792065 Calls/SMS/WhatsApp 08088450152 Calls/SMS/WhatsApp. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Twitter: @PoliceNG
Adewole Kehinde is a Journalist based in Abuja. 08054328498 – SMS Only