Amid rising tension, FG restricts controversial police unit
By John Eche
In what is clearly being regarded as an action designed to contain rising tension, the Federal Government has moved to restrict the operations of the controversial police unit, the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS.
This is after days of protests on notably, social media, denouncing the operations of the unit which has often been alleged to be in the habit of deploying extra-professional measures in the conduct of its work.
According to a statement from the Office of the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, personnel of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad and other tactical squads of the force, including the Special Tactical Squad, Intelligence Response Team, Anti-Cultism Squad, and other squads operating at the Federal, Zonal, and Command levels, were now being restricted from carrying out routine patrols, in addition to conducting other conventional low-risk duties – stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks, traffic checks, etc, albeit with immediate effect.
The statement was signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, and released to the media on Sunday.
Titled, ‘IGP bans FSARS, other police tactical squads from routine patrols’, the statement also outlined that “In addition, no personnel of the Force is authorised to embark on patrols or tactical assignments in mufti. They must always appear in their police uniforms or approved tactical gear.”
The latest in the alleged cases of highhandedness of the police operatives is in relation to the alleged shooting of a youth in Ughelli, Delta State by SARS operatives.
However, some commentators on the subject say they would not be fooled and want to see concrete action taken. Responding to the restriction notice, civil society activist and lawyer, Barrister Abdul Mahmud affirmed that it was about the same recycled statement even as the announced measures were simply not enough.
‘SARS is a rogue unit. Besides, there’s are fundamental questions to be asked about the operational way of arms handling in the police force. Soldiers carry arms, why do we not have incessant killings by Soldiers, even in their increasing civil operations? Why?’
It will be recalled that the Presidency had similarly ordered a comprehensive overhaul of the security force two years ago.
President Muhammadu Buhari