Nigeria: Disbanded F-SARS Operatives Barred From Joining SWAT

15 October 2020

Operatives of the now defunct Federal Special Anti-Robbery Sqaud (SARS) unit won't be allowed to join the newly created Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit.

In a memo circulated yesterday at the Force headquarters, Abuja, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, noted that SARS' former officers are barred from joining the newly-created Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit of the Nigeria Police Force.

Following nationwide protests to push the demand to scrap the F-SARS championed by the hashtag, #EndSARS, IGP Adamu had on Sunday announced the scrapping of the F-SARS nationwide with immediate effect and directed all operatives of squad.

Accordingly, he set up the new Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to fill the gap arising from the dissolution of the defunct SARS.

One of the criteria for the selection of SWAT officers contained in the IGP's memo stipulates that the prospective must not have worked for SARS.

The officers to be recruited, according to the memo, must also have at least seven years policing service experience, and must pass physical fitness and be able to withstand training and operation.

They will also undergo medical and psychological fitness to certify them fit medically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Operations of the newly formed SWAT team will be strictly intelligence-driven, entailing that members of the tactical team are barred from routine patrols, indiscriminate and unlawful search of phones, laptops and other smart devices

Another criterion for selection of the SWAT members is that prospective officers must not have pending disciplinary issues, or any serious previous record of professional misconduct touching on intemperate behaviour, incivility to members of the public, corrupt practices, and misuse of firearms.

For operational service, the memo noted that recruited officers must be between the ages of 25 and 40 years, and 35 and 45 years for command elements.

Despite the scraping of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, the protest against the outfit continued in the nation's capital, Abuja, as well as Lagos and Anambra States, culminating in violent clashes.

As protesters blocked major roads and junctions in the FCT yesterday, LEADERSHIP gathered that the peaceful #ENDSARS protest turned violent when pro-SARS group invaded the Berger roundabout, chasing away the #ENDSARS protesters.

It was learnt that the five cars were smashed by the protesters, while the protest led to heavy traffic jam in not only around the Berger Roundabout, but also in other parts of the nation's capital.

The protesters, mainly youths, who had no clear leader were peacefully marching around the roundabout under the Berger Bridge, chanting songs like "end police brutality now before the clash.

They demanded that an executive order by President Muhammadu Buhari will go a long way to assure Nigerians that F-SARS is banned.

Addressing journalists yesterday at the FCT Command on the incident, FCT Commissioner of Police, CP Bala Ciroma, noted that the timely intervention of police officers prevented the situation from deteriorating.

Ciroma confirmed that five vehicles were destroyed during the protest, adding that so far, no arrest had been made, while investigation was ongoing to ascertain those behind the protest and to determine what actually happened, even as he advised the protesters to be calm so that economic activities could pick up.

He added that there was no reported case of death or injuries from the protest.

He stated: "Today, being 14th of October, 2020, there were convergences of protesters at Berger Roundabout. The protesters were divided into two- those protesting against SARS and those against ending SARS.

"While we deployed our men to ensure law and order, these groups came into the arena, and before we knew it there were hot exchanges between the groups. However, the timely intervention of the police officers prevented the situation from deteriorating and we have commenced investigation to determine what actually happened."

In Lagos, protesters at Alausa in Ikeja, unleashed mayhem on innocent citizens with sticks and other dangerous weapons following suspicion that some persons may have infiltrated their ranks and files.

The entrance to the State House of Assembly, Alausa, where the crisis erupted was thrown into chaos as angry youths descended mercilessly on people suspected to have stolen some phones.

Officers of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) rescued one of the victims who was almost beaten to death.

The chaos lasted for several minutes before it was brought under control.

In Anambra State, the #EndSARS protesters paralysed socio-economic activities in Awka, the state capital, as scores of youth trooped to major roads complaining against alleged brutality and killings of innocent persons.

The protesters who caused gridlock on the ever-busy Enugu-Enugu Expressway at the popular Aroma junction named about 12 persons who they alleged were killed by SARS operatives in the state.

The protesters, after moving round some roads in the city, later went to the Government House, Awka, where they insisted that they would only disperse after the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano addressed them.

Spokesperson for the angry youths, Uche Okoye, stated that they were still protesting despite the disbandment of SARS by Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in order to compel the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force to bring to book all the SARS personnel who brutalized and killed citizens of this country, especially the youths.

The protesters also went round some media stations and the Anambra State House of Assembly.

Policemen in the Ogbomoso town of Oyo State on Saturday killed a youth, Isiaq Jimoh , who was said not to be part of the protest .

Police Killed 10 Protesters, Amnesty International Alleges

The Global rights group, Amnesty International, has said at least 10 protesters have been killed by the Nigeria Police Force since the # EndSARS demonstrations began last week Thursday.

Amnesty which stated this in a tweet said, "So far, Nigerian police have killed at least 10 people since the start of protests against callous operations of SARS."

Violent Protests Threat To Democracy, National Security - CSOs

Meanwhile, a coalition of civil society organisations under the auspices, Citizens Action for Good Governance (CAGG), has called for the total ban of all street protests in the guise of #endSARS, saying the violent dimension of the protest is a threat to national security.

The group which stated this during a world press conference in Abuja commended the IGP Adamu for the creation of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit to combat rising cases of Armed-Robbery, fraud and all forms of criminality across the country.

National coordinator of CAGG, Comrade Nazir Galadanchi, also called on President Buhari to do the needful before the situation escalate and gets out of hand.

The group also condemned the killing and injuries inflicted on policemen in Delta and Lagos states by the protesters.

He said, "We have a simple and straight demand at this point. We demand a total ban of all street protests immediately by the government because if this is not done what the country will witness in coming days will not be palatable based on the above facts we have stated. We call on Nigerians to see reasons and rise up to stop the protesters because their demand has been met by dissolving the F-SARS, and other 5 demands are all met by the police authority on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari.

"We want President Buhari to do the needful before it gets out of hand. We are also bona fide Nigerians who don't want this now politically-motivated protest to affect others negatively."

Commending the IG, the group said, "We want to first seize this opportunity to formally commend the IGP, Mr Mohammed Adamu for his capacity and competence in managing the protest so far and the formation of the novel Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT) unit set up to tackle all incidences of fraud, armed-robbery and other criminality across the country.

"We believe it will be a better, improved, well organized version of the dissolved SARS. We urged the IGP to continue to put measures in place to evolve a people-friendly and humane Nigeria Police Force for guaranteed policing and rid the nation of all forms of criminality and crime. We also thank the IGP for heeding to our call on reform to subject police officers to psychological and medical examination and enhance trainings.

"We want to also clear the air that the SWAT Team are not personnel of the defunct SARS. They are experienced officers of the Nigerian Police Force who are going to be given good training and orientation, state-of-the-art technological equipment, use of drones and body-worn cameras to facial recognition software and artificial intelligence.

"On the on-going protest across the country, we want to unequivocally state at this juncture that the dimension the protesters have assumed is really becoming worrisome because we see that the protests have been hijacked and other actions we seemly describe as unbecoming and threat to national security."

Coalition Of Northern Groups Stages Expanded Protest Over Insecurity Today

Meanwhile, Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has directed all its chapters across the 19 northern states to begin an expanded protest across the region today.

The protest, according to the coalition, is to demand for immediate declaration of state of emergency on security and practical steps to end all forms of insecurity in the North and entire Nigeria.

The Coalition said it will also be demanding thorough reorientation of the entire police force and its empowerment by way of additional personnel, modern training and adequate equipment to reclaim its universal internal security function.

In a statement issued yesterday, CNG lamented that while elected representatives of the southern extraction are backing the yearnings of their protesting citizens, their northern counterparts have abandoned their own citizens to the mercy of criminals terrorising communities in the region.

The statement signed by the Coalition's spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman noted: "CNG has followed developments around the bold and necessary steps taken by Nigerian citizens in some parts of the country including some northern states to call attention to the deteriorating national security and other pressing concerns around the dwindling economy, prohibitive commodity prices, rising inflation amidst mounting poverty and prolonged stay at home by university students.

"The CNG notes the appreciative progression of the citizens' action that climaxed with government's swift response to one of the concerns raised with the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police, and its immediate replacement with Special Weapon and Tactics Team (SWAT)".

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