News came in that the IGP has banned routine patrols by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) with immediate effect. The ban includes traffic checks, stop and search activities, police checkpoints, roadblocks, amongst others. This is coming on the heels of allegations of police brutality including kidnapping, extortion, murder leveled against officers from this unit.
The most recent allegation involves the shooting of a young man in Delta State. This created an uproar within the community and the country as Nigerians took to social media to denounce and lament their experiences at the hands of SARS. #ENDSARS trended on Twitter for the past couple of days, a hashtag that has appeared almost every other month in the past during a flashpoint of police brutality, with little resolution.
Part of the statement reads: “Specifically, the IGP has warned the tactical squads against the invasion of the privacy of citizens particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorised search of mobile phones, laptops, and other smart devices.”. Citizens have long complained of illegal stop and searches, with officers going as far as requesting access to their phones to peruse.
Further, “two operatives of the FSARS and their civilian accomplice operating in Lagos State, INSPR Sale James, INSPR Monday Uchiola and Okechukwu Ogbonna, have been arrested by the Lagos State Police Command, for acts of professional misconduct including extortion and intimidation of innocent citizens”.
The statement stops short of disbanding the unit, with the focus on banning patrols and instituting a strict uniform policy to allow easy identification of officers. The IGP appealed to the citizens “not to allow the misconduct by a few personnel of the Force to negatively impact on their belief, confidence and trust in the Police”.