Nigeria’s Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday rebuffed cries by Nigerians to ban the contoversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Nigeria Police Force, directing rather the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to immediately begin the overhaul of the Squad, notorious for alleged extra-judicial killings, torture and other rights abuses.
This was disclosed in a statement made available to journalists on Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande.
Mr. Osinbajo also directed the National Human Rights Commission to set up a panel to probe allegations of rights abuse by the Police unit, the statement said.
According to Akande, the Acting President’s order was based on persistent complaints being made by members of the public against the SARS.
The statement read, “Following persistent complaints and reports on the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad that border on allegations of human rights violations, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has directed the Inspector General of Police 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 has also directed the IGP to ensure that all operatives in the emerging unit conduct 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.
“The operatives should also bear proper identification anytime they are on duty.
“In the meantime, the Acting President has directed the National Human Rights Commission to set up a special panel that will conduct an investigation of the alleged unlawful activities of SARS in order to afford members of the general public the opportunity to present their grievances with a view to ensuring redress.”
Majority of Nigerians favour the proscription of SARS.