A ban on SARS is nothing but policy somersault with no effect - Falana

A human rights activists and chairman of Alliance for Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond, ASCAB, Femi Falana (SAN), has described the IGP’s ban on the operatives of Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) as nothing but ineffective policy somersault.

Falana, in a statement attached to ASCAB, described the move to ban the special police squad as a recurring procedure which has no effect whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force Public Relations Officer, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Frank Mba, said, yesterday, that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, cannot be scrapped because of its potency in combating criminality and deadly criminal gangs in the country.

Mba disclosed that the Police headquarters was currently reforming the operations of SARS officers nationwide to curtail their excesses.

Following the excesses of it’s operatives, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had banned SARS personnel from engaging in routine patrols, stop-and-search, mounting of roadblocks and traffic checks with immediate effect.

Emphasizing that the IGP and the Force were committed to reforming SARS. Mba said: “What we need to do is to reform SARS and make them responsive, responsible and work in accordance with laid down procedures.

“We need them to continue to respond to violent crimes. We need them to continue to respond to armed robberies. We need them to continue to respond to kidnappings.”

In their comment, the Femi Falana-chaired civil rights movement, ASCAB, said yesterday that the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, was not sincere in his latest ban of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.

ASCAB said it was not the first time the police high command had issued such orders banning the squad, noting that each time, the repressive operatives returned to the streets to torment the people.

The group said gross violations of human rights were linked to SARS and that a change of structure without fundamental change of the operatives of the structure would soon make the problems to recur.

“The police high command has banned SARS several times. It has become a ritual. But SARS continues to operate under different names or structure. What we see is like removing sour wine and putting it in the same old, rusty bottles. Nothing remarkable has changed in the police command structure that aids all forms of repression and extra-judicial killings,” ASCAB said.

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It recalled that following public outcry in 2018 against indiscriminate arrests and detention, extortion and extrajudicial killings as well as other horrendous human rights abuse perpetrated by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, the Federal Government responded by setting up the Presidential panel of inquiry to investigate all complaints of human rights abuse.

It noted that many Nigerians submitted reports and memoranda and gave clear evidence of police abuse but regretted that the recommendations were yet to be implemented in 2020.

ASCAB said some of the recommendations made included the dismissal of 37 police officers from the force and the prosecution of 24 others, investigation of 22 officers involved in the violation of human rights of innocent citizens, payment of compensation of various sums in 45 complaints and tender of public apologies in five complaints and compliance with court orders in five matters.

Other recommendations were the setting up of State and local government police and renaming of SARS to Anti-Robbery Section (ARS) which should operate under the intelligence unit of the police force.

The group lamented that though recommendations were accepted by President Mohammadu Buhari on June 3, 2019, nothing has been done since then.

‘’The Inspector-General of Police and the Solicitor-General of the Federation/Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice were mandated to engage the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, for a strategy of implementation within three months.

“To declare a ban on SARS again is nothing but policy somersault. It does not show effective leadership neither does it portray the police authority as consistent,” ASCAB said.

The group said if the reports were implemented, it would have addressed major problems associated with the operatiing system of SARS and bring an end to its oppressive and inhuman modalities.

ASCAB said the policy flaws of the police were an indication that the force cannot redeem itself, calling on the Federal Government to strengthen the National Human Rights Commission Act so was to empower the group to be able to deal with issues of human rights violations associated with state actors.

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