Nigeria overhauls anti-robbery squad following avalanche of complaints cops were the real robbers Updated for 2021

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Updated: February 28, 2021


The Nigerian Inspecter General of Police announced on Tuesday that he was overhauling the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to “address complaints and allegations of human rights violations” against cops who often turn on the people rather than help fight crimes.

The IGP announced that a new Commissioner of Police has been appointed as the overall head of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad nationwide.

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“The Commissioner of Police (FSARS) is answerable to the Inspector General of Police through the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Department of Operations,” he wrote in a statement, hours after acting President Yemi Osinbajo called for the special force to be overhauled.

The call came after police refunded a victim about $300 extorted from him by policemen who forced him to withdraw money from the ATM at gunpoint or face a heavy traffic offense fine.

The dark episode was only the tip of the iceberg in a country where cops are often accused of robbing people or conniving with robbers with impunity.

The episode angered the presidency seven months to a general election starting in February next year, and triggered calls for reforms. 

“The Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad previously under the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (FCIID) is henceforth to operate under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja,” the Inspector General of Police said.

“In observance of full compliance with the Presidential directives, the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad will be intelligence driven and will be restricted to the prevention and detection of Armed Robbery, kidnapping and the apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences only”.

He said “New FSARS Commanders are being appointed for the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) across the country that will now exist and operate in the State and Zonal Commands under the Commissioner of Police (F-SARS) at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.

“A Federal SARS Commander of a Rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) but not below Superintendent of Police (SP) will be in charge of FSARS in State and Zonal Commands across the Country.

“All Commissioners of Police have been directed by the Inspector General of Police to comply with this directive with immediate effect and warn their personnel not to pose as SARS operatives”.

The police added that “The IGP X-Squad and Monitoring Unit have been mandated to go round the Commands and Police Formations nationwide to ensure strict compliance with the Presidential directives and apprehend any erring police officer. 

“A new Standard Operational Guidelines and Procedures, and code of conduct for all FSARS personnel to ensure that the operations of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad is in strict adherence to the rule of law and with due regards to international human rights law and constitutionally guaranteed rights of suspects will be enforced in totality by the Commissioner of Police, FSARS”.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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