In response to the growing outcry of Nigerians over the extrajudicial activities of operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) the Nigeria Police Force has issued ‘new’ directives and guidelines to control the activities of SARS. The new directives include the ban on searching citizens mobile phones and illegal harassment, extortion, and arrest of Nigerians.
The directives which were personally signed by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, instructed SARS ‘both federal and state’, Intelligence Response Team, Special Tactical Squad, State Anti-Kidnapping Unit, and other special units to adhere to the new rules or risk dismissal. The new directive reads.
“Any police personnel that, henceforth, abuse his or her powers in a manner that degrades, endangers or threatens the life and other fundamental rights of the citizens shall be promptly arrested, processed through our internal disciplinary machinery and if found culpable, shall be dismissed from service. In addition, such a person could be charged to court in consonance with their level of criminal liability in the instance.
“All the operatives of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad, State Special Anti Robbery Squads, Intelligence Response Team, Special Tactical Squad, Anti-kidnapping Squads, and any other unit of the Force that operates in mufti under any special nomenclature are banned from routine patrols on the highways and streets.
“Their operational deployments are to be limited to responses to specific security breaches including armed robbery, kidnapping, or other violent incidents, and in such instance, they must be expressly authorized by the appropriate police authority.
“All the operatives of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad, State Special Anti Robbery Squads, Intelligence Response Team, Special Tactical Squad, Anti-kidnapping Squads and any other unit of the Force that operates in mufti under any special nomenclature are also henceforth, banned from engaging in conventional, low-risk duties including stop and search, mounting checkpoints or roadblocks, undertaking traffic duties, searching of the persons or assets of any citizen on the streets and other functions which are within the purview of the uniformed conventional police detachments.
“The indiscriminate, unauthorized, and degrading search of mobile phones, laptops, and other smart electronic devices of citizens by the special units and all police operatives of different formations, zones, commands, and units is hereby banned.
“The only exception in such an act is in furtherance to a specific case that has been reported and is a subject of the criminal investigation in specific formation, command, police station, or unit. In which case, due process must be followed by the investigating team.”
The IGP instructed all leaders of police formations, commands, and units to compile and report all recent cases of abuses of power and violation of rights of Nigerian citizens by FSARS, SARS, IRT, STS, and other police teams to his office not later than Friday 9th October 2020.
Mr. Adamu added that the CP X-Squad, Force Provost Marshall, and IGP Monitoring Unit are to immediately coordinate and deploy joint teams across all 36 states commands and the FCT with a view to enforcing the order and any officer found violating the order must be arrested and escorted to the Force headquarters for appropriate action.