The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday directed the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris, to overhaul the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria police, also known as SARS with immediate effect.

Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris
Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris

The directive, which was not unconnected with the pervasive complaints against the squad over human rights violations, was given with a view to making the unit strictly intelligence-driven and restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery and kidnapping, and apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences.

A statement issued the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, quoted the Acting President as also directing that the operatives should henceforth bear proper identification anytime they are on duty.

He stated: “Following persistent complaints and reports on the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) that border on allegations of human rights violations, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to, with immediate effect, overhaul the management and activities of SARS and ensure that any Unit that will emerge from the process, 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.”

The Acting President also directed the IGP to ensure that all operatives in the emerging Unit conducted their operations in strict adherence to the rule of law and with due regard to International Human Rights Law and the constitutionally guaranteed rights of suspects.

In addition, Osinbajo ordered the Police chief to ensure that when fully reorganized, the operatives should also bear proper identification anytime they are on duty.

This is even as the Acting President also directed the National Human Rights Commission to set up a Special Panel that will conduct investigation into any alleged unlawful activities of SARS in order to afford members of the general public the opportunity to present their grievances and by so doing, get justice for their rights violations.