State Governors in Nigeria has cautioned the Inspector General of Police on his plan to constitute the Special Weapons and Tactics Team as a replacement for the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, arguing that the timing is wrong.
The governors under the umbrella of the Nigerian Governors Forum, admonished the IGP Mohammed Adamu to “consult more” before forging ahead with his plans to form the new another anti-robbery unit.
The governors who viewed that the timing is not just right judging from the mood in Nigeria, noted that the public may misconstrue the idea as an attempt to dress the scrapped SARS in fresh robes.
Chairman of the forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi said this in a communique he signed on Thursday after the forum’s teleconference meeting with the IGP, on Wednesday.
Governor Fayemi said the forum received a briefing from the IGP with regards to the nationwide end SARS protests and plans by the police Chief to carry out far-reaching reforms of the force to meet the challenges of crime management in modern times.
According to Fayemi, the IGP informed governors that the new SWAT team he was putting together will only carry out intelligence-based activities and will not be involved in regular operations.
The communique read in part, “The IGP informed the Forum that after a psychological and medical evaluation, SWAT Officers will be trained and posted to all State Commands – about 50 per State, where they will operate only on intelligence-driven operation.
“They will not take part in routine operations but will operate specifically on intelligence after which they will return to their Commands.
“The IGP assured Governors that he will leverage the provisions of the new Police Act 2020 to carry out extensive reforms within the Police and he pledged for the support, understanding and guidance of Governors to embark on the new reforms.“
Fayemi said “In response, the Forum acknowledged the concerns of many Nigerians especially youths that have been affected by the excesses of some officials of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and the Nigeria Police;
“This notwithstanding, Forum members noted the efforts of officials of FSARS in their States, as they have greatly assisted in containing the increasing spate of kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle rustling, and other high-end crimes particularly in the Northern States, where containing these criminal activities would have otherwise been very challenging.
“Members, therefore, expressed concern about the sweeping decision to scrap FSARS even while acknowledging the need to address its excesses.“
He further said “After deliberation and extensive discussions, members resolved as follows:
“Governors were unanimous in their support for the IGP and endorsed his plan to carry out far-reaching reforms geared towards greater effectiveness, accountability, and transparency; members called for increased regularity in the meetings of the Nigeria Police Council in order for it to effectively carry out its regulatory and supervisory roles as contained in the Nigerian Constitution.”
On the IGP’s plans on SWAT, the Governors “ stated that even though the effort might be necessary and in good faith, they argued that the timing is inauspicious as the mood of the nation negates it and may understandably be misinterpreted as a surreptitious move to dress FSARS in another garb.”
Fayemi further agreed that the protests went beyond asking for an end to SARS to include an improvement in governance across board.
The governors also charged the police to fish out members of the disbanded police unit involved in acts of gross human rights violations and ensure that they answered for their crimes.