The acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has directed the inspector general of police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris to overhaul the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) with immediate effect.
The directive is sequel to persistent human rights violation allegations leveled against SARS.
Osinbajo, who gave the order on Tuesday through his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande said: “Following persistent complaints and reports on the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) that border on allegations of human rights violations, His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN, Acting-President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, has directed the Inspector General of Police to, with immediate effect, overhaul the management and activities of SARS.”
Akande said the federal government hoped to refocus the modes of operation of whatever unit that may emerge from the overhaul.
“The new unit will be intelligence-driven and restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery and kidnapping, and apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences, and nothing more,” said Osinbajo.
In his response, the convener of #EndSARSNow movement campaign Segun Awosanya described the reorganization order as a “welcome development.”
“We still have to monitor the implementation of the order. It is not Uhuru yet until we see the outcome of the interpretation of this order,” he said.
It would be recalled that in December 2017, the alleged killing of an alleged ‘yahoo boy’ (internet fraudster) by men of the SARS in Yaba, Lagos triggered the #ENDSARSNOW campaign on the social media.
In the wake of the agitation, Segun Awosanya and over 10, 000 people signed a petition and submitted it to the national assembly calling for the scrapping of SARS.
The social media campaign and the petition elicited reactions from the police authorities with Idris announcing the immediate restructuring of SARS.
The restructuring of SARS as announced by the police chief included the “federalization” of SARS with a commissioner of police in the force headquarters becoming the overall head of SARS under the department of operations, the setting up of an X-squad mandated to investigate compliance and abuse by SARS outfit, training of SARS members in police duties and human rights, and the release of police mobile hotlines for members of the public to lodge complaints whenever necessary.