The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, has banned the personnel of the dreaded Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other 'Tactical Squads' of the Force from operating on Nigerian roads.
This directive was contained in a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, on Sunday afternoon.
The ban is coming on the hills of cries by Nigerians online who are calling for the abolition of the police unit, SARS.
The unit has been accused of several human rights violations especially of young Nigerians who are seen carrying laptop computers.
The call for the abolition of the unit grew louder on Sunday with the police in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital, pledging to cleanse its ranks of officials found culpable of improper acts.
OFF THE ROAD
In the new directive by the Inspector-General, FSARS and other Tactical Squads of the Police such as the Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Anti-Cultism Squad and other Tactical Squads are to stop all activities on Nigerian roads.
According to the statement, the activities include routine patrols and other conventional low-risk duties such as stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks, traffic checks, etc - with immediate effect.
"In addition, no personnel of the Force is authorized to embark on patrols or tactical assignments in mufti."
"They must always appear in their police uniforms or approved tactical gear. The IGP's directives come against the backdrop of findings by the leadership of the Force that a few personnel of the Tactical Squads 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."
"Specifically, the IGP has warned the Tactical Squads against the invasion of the privacy of citizens particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorized search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices."
The statement said they are to concentrate and respond only to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes when the need arises.
The IGP noted that the FSARS and other Police Tactical Squads remain a critical component of the Force in confronting prevailing and emerging violent crimes in the country.
The statement said the police chief condemns every act of unprofessionalism, abuse of human rights and high-handedness by personnel of the squads.
"He has therefore ordered the X-Squad and the Monitoring Unit to embark on immediate and massive nationwide monitoring of activities of Tactical Squads and other police officers on the road."
"They are to ensure prompt arrest, investigation and prosecution of all erring police officers who violate these directives and other extant regulations of the Force."
"The IGP has equally warned that henceforth, the Commissioner of Police in charge of FSARS, Commissioners of Police in charge of State Commands and the FCT as well as their supervisory Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police, will be held liable for any misconduct within their Area of Responsibility (AOR)."
"He therefore charged them to ensure effective supervision and mentoring of the personnel of the Tactical Squads under their jurisdiction."
The latest #EndSARS campaign is not the first. A previous one last tear led to the formation of a presidential panel to review the activities of the police unit.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how President Buhari last year ordered the implementation of the report of the panel. However, nothing seems to have changed since then until the Sunday directive.