SWITZERLAND, OCTOBER 05 – Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has supported the presidential ban police tactical units including SARS from routine patrols amidst rising cases of harassment and extrajudicial killings across the country.
Addressing the mdia on Sunday, Osinbajo said, the reports of harassment of young people by officers of the special anti-robbery squad (SARS) of the Nigeria police force makes him “very angry”.
According to Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, the vice-president said the reports of brutality were “completely unacceptable because these are individuals who are meant to protect Nigerians”.
Osinbajo said President Muhammadu Buhari has also expressed displeasure over the reports of human rights abuses by SARS, and urged Nigerians to expect a reform of the police force.
“The President and I have had discussions on this. He is very concerned about it. He wants to see reform,” Osinbajo was quoted as saying.
“I am very concerned, in fact, very angry about what I see happening to young men and women who are arrested — in some cases maimed or killed by men of the police force.
“The arrest, maiming or killing of young people or anyone at all, is completely wrong. It is unlawful and illegal, and anyone involved in this act ought to be investigated and prosecuted.”
The vice president also said he met with Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police, over measures to check SARS operations.
“Today, I had a meeting with the inspector-general of police. We reviewed several of these issues,” he said.
“You are probably aware that the IGP has issued a statement looking at all these issues; in particular, the warning against the use of these tactical units such as SARS for purposes of doing anything other than anti-robbery.
“For example, and I think in his statement, he specifically said that you cannot have a situation where SARS says they are investigating cybercrime by arresting young men and women carrying their laptops and phones. Cybercrime is an electronic crime. I don’t see how you can investigate that by seizing people’s phones in a taxi or in their cars.”
A ban on routine patrols by SARS and other tactical unit was announced in a statement released by the Presidency on Sunday.
The statement reads:
“All FSARS, STS, IRT & other Tactical Police Squads operating at Federal, Zonal & Command levels are hereby BANNED from carrying out routine patrols & other conventional low-risk duties – stop & search duties, checkpoints, roadblocks, traffic checks, etc – WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT.
“Henceforth, no Police personnel is authorized to embark on patrols or tactical assignments in mufti. All Police Force personnel must always appear in their police uniforms or approved tactical gear.
“All Tactical Squads must also desist from the invasion of the privacy of citizens particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorized search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices.
“Henceforth, the Commissioner of Police in charge of FSARS, Commissioners of Police in charge of State/FCT Commands as well as their supervisory Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police, will be held liable for any Police misconduct within their Area of Responsibility (AOR).
“The Nigerian Police authorities will step up monitoring of all activities of Tactical Squads (FSARS etc) and other police officers, nationwide, and ensure the prompt arrest, investigation and prosecution of all officers who violate these directives and other Force regulations.”