‘SARS No Longer Has Powers to Detain Suspects’ Lagos CP

Officer Hakeem Odumosu, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, said that operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in the state no longer have the authority to unilaterally detain suspects. This is in response to the recent ban placed on SARS and other Tactical Squads by the Inspector General of Police. Odumosu disclosed that he organized a sensitization lecture with the officers of the Force on Monday to intimate them on the new directive of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.

There has been constant outrage across the country due to the alleged extortion, harassment and frequent killings of innocent Nigerians by SARS operatives with government officials and Nigerian celebrities expressing their dissatisfaction.

Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police issued directives and guidelines constraining SARS personnel from engaging in routine patrols, stop-and-search, mounting of roadblocks and traffic checks with immediate effect. He signed the guideline and directed that the SARS (Federal and State), Intelligence Response Team, Special Tactical Squad, State Anti-Kidnapping Unit and other special units abide by the new directives or risk dismissal.

The IGP further stated that there was no police law or international protocol that authorizes the unlawful killing or degrading treatment of fellow citizens as law enforcement agents. He noted that no element of its professional training or ethical standards permits any police personnel to deploy lethal weapons, adding that all reports of abuses are against laid down provisions of the Force.

He stressed that given the constant outcry from Nigerians, it had become a necessity to reinforce the extant Force Accountability Policy, which holds any officer professionally and criminally liable for the consequences of their actions.

He said, ‘Any police personnel that, henceforth, abuse his or her powers in a manner that degrades, endangers or threatens the life and other fundamental rights of the citizens, shall be promptly arrested, processed through our internal disciplinary machinery and if found culpable, shall be dismissed from service. In addition, such personnel could be charged to court in consonance with their level of criminal liability in the instance.

‘All the operatives of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad, State Special Anti Robbery Squads, Intelligence Response Team, Special Tactical Squad, Anti-kidnapping Squads and any other unit of the Force that operates in mufti under any special nomenclature are banned from routine patrols on the highways and streets. Their operational deployments are to be limited to responses to specific security breaches including armed robbery, kidnapping or other violent incidents and in such instance, they must be expressly authorized by the appropriate police authority.’

‘All the operatives of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad, State Special Anti Robbery Squads, Intelligence Response Team, Special Tactical Squad, Anti-kidnapping Squads and any other unit of the Force that operates in mufti under any special nomenclature are also henceforth, banned from engaging in conventional, low-risk duties including stop and search, mounting checkpoints or road blocks, undertaking traffic duties, searching of the persons or assets of any citizen on the streets and other functions which are within the purview of the uniformed conventional police detachments.’

‘The indiscriminate, unauthorized, and degrading search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart electronic devices of citizens by the special units and all police operatives of different formations, zones, commands and units is hereby banned. The only exception is such an act is in furtherance to a specific case that has been reported and is a subject of criminal investigation in specific formation, command, police station or unit. In which case, due process must be followed by the investigating team.’

Adamu ordered all Head of Police formations, commands and units to compile and report all recent cases of abuses of power and violation of rights of citizens by FSARS, SARS, IRT, STS and other police teams to his office not later than Friday 9th October, 2020.

He added that the CP X-Squad, Force Provost Marshall and IGP Monitoring Unit are to immediately coordinate and deploy joint teams across all 36 states commands and the FCT with a view to enforcing the order. He said any officer found violating the order must be arrested and escorted to the Force headquarters for appropriate action.

Speaking on Tuesday, the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Odumosu said, ‘It is going to be different because there will be more monitoring and more supervision.

‘The additional directive I gave yesterday (Monday) is that they must not even go to investigate any case without booking their arrival at the Area Commander’s office so that the Area Commander will know that they are in that area doing what they ought to do. And once they finish, they must go back and file entry.

‘Secondly, I gave a directive that they must not detain anybody in their cells any longer. They can only detain at my office or at the Area Commander’s office. And the Area Commander must interview any suspect they want to detain and ascertain that the suspect had done what warranted being detained.

‘All these are additional measures put in place to make sure that the supervision is effective. So, there is more supervision now and it going to be more effective now.’

Peace Omenka

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