President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered a review of the operation of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to transform it into a responsible police unit, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Over the past eight months, numerous Nigerians have taken to social media to accuse officers of the unit of several misconducts ranging from harassment, extortion, assault and extra-judicial killings.
This has led to relentless calls for the unit to be completely scrapped to ease the fears of Nigerians who live in dread of the officers of the unit.
While speaking at a town hall meeting at the launch of National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, Clinics in Ibadan, Oyo State on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, Osinbajo said the president is concerned with the unit’s conduct and has already ordered its review.
He said, “Many people are complaining about the atrocities of SARS, people are saying there should be no more SARS. SARS as you know is anti-robbery squad but several members of the squad have gone rogue and are doing things that are contrary to the very reasons for which they were set up.
“But it is not enough to just say, ‘end SARS’. You know it is an anti-robbery squad. What we need to end is to deal with the atrocities of SARS, we want to end everything that is wrong that they are doing and we must always have in place, a force that is able to protect us against robbery, against kidnapping and all that.
“The President has already ordered a review of the formation of SARS so that very soon we would be able to have SARS that will be responsible.”
Previous reorganisation has been ineffective
When the earlier calls for the scrapping of the unit grew in December 2017, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, ordered the reorganisation of SARS’ operational roles and activities.
Under the new arrangement, state Commissioners of Police were installed as overall heads of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad nationwide.
The IGP also ordered for all SARS personnel nationwide to undergo a new training program to be organized in collaboration with some civil society organizations, local and Iiternational NGOs, and other human rights organizations.
Despite the reorganisation, the calls to scrap the unit has resurfaced with the unit still operating with impunity that mostly targets Nigerian youths.