By Elohor Igbru
Following a relentless campaign by citizens on social media over the incessant harassment, indiscriminate arrest, extortion and murder of innocent Nigerians, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Muhammed Adamu has banned the personnel of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other Tactical Squads of the police from carrying out routine patrols and other low-risks duties with immediate effect.
Other duties from which the Squads are banned from performing include: stop and search, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks and traffic checks. Also included in the list are operatives of the Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Anti-Cultism Squad (ACS) and others operating at the Federal, Zonal and Command levels.
In a Press Statement issued on Sunday and signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Frank Mba in Abuja, the Inspector General also directed that no personnel of the Force must go on patrols or tactical operations in mufti but must appear in their police uniforms or approved tactical gear.
Mba said the order is coming “against the backdrop of findings by the leadership of the Force that a few personnel of the Tactical Squad hide under these guise to perpetrate all forms of illegality, contrary to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement establishing the Squads.
The IGP also warned against the invasion of privacy of citizens “particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorised search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices. They are to concentrate and respond only to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes when the need arises.”
However, hopes that the Squads especially SARS would be disbanded were dashed as the IGP noted that FSARS remains a critical component of the Force in confronting prevailing and emerging violent crimes in the country.
“He however condemns every act of unprofessionalism, abuse of human rights and high-handedness by some personnel of the Squads,” Mba said.
The Police boss also warned that Commissioners of Police in charge of FSARS, Commissioners of Police in charge of State Commands and the Federal Capital Territory as well as their supervisory Zonal Assistant Inspector Generals of Police will be held liable for any misconduct within their Areas of Responsibility (AOR).