Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, has ordered the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, to “overhaul the management and activities” of notorious Police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Since last year, numerous Nigerians have taken to social media to accuse officers of the unit of several misconducts ranging from harassment, extortion, assault to extra-judicial killings. This has led to relentless calls for the unit to be completely scrapped to ease the fears of Nigerians who live in dread of the unit.
In a statement issued by Osinbajo’s spokesperson,Laolu Akande, the Acting President ordered the IGP to shut down the unit “with immediate effect”.
The statement read, “Following persistent complaints and reports on the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) that border on allegations of human rights violations, His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN, Acting-President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, 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 Humanitarian Law and the constitutionally guaranteed rights of suspects. The operatives should also bear proper identification any time they are on duty.
“In the meantime, the Acting President has directed the National Human Rights Commission to set up a Committee that will conduct nation-wide 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.”
While speaking at a town hall meeting at the launch of National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, Clinics in Ibadan, Oyo State on June 26, 2018, Osinbajo had disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari was concerned with the operations of SARS and had already ordered a review of the unit.
The vice president further said the unit cannot be scrapped but be rehabilitated to curb the atrocities of the bad eggs.
Many Nigerians have welcomed the news that Nigeria’s notorious anti-robbery squad, known as Sars, is to have a makeover.
They responded to the presidential statement released on Twitter where a sustained #EndSars campaign has been running. This tweet shows a victorious Fela Kuti – Nigeria’s legendary musician, who was never scared of taking on authority.
As expected, the directive has sparked a lot of reactions on social media.
Some Nigerians have hailed Osinbajo for the directive while some have asked the Acting President to forgive them for abusing him.
So far, the reactions on Twitter show that the Acting President’s order is a welcome development.
Some users even called on the President to remain in London permanently.
I have insulted you several times make I no lie !!! But for this SARS matta its a must that I say I am very sorry sir !! Oya tell them for ASO Rock to give you two bottle of coke on me .. I know say u no deh drink beer , God bless you
— MAD-MAN PHD (@asari_freedom) August 14, 2018
Victory 👐 pic.twitter.com/iGPSmxSmHO
— Babasola (@___PapiChulo___) August 14, 2018
Give that guy two bottle…I concur 💯👌 pic.twitter.com/Jwwkmv2ggI
— Frankisenx ☠ (@Sirwynee) August 14, 2018
Lai Mohd- We won't end SARS
Yomi SARS- We won't end SARS
Social Media: Let's end SARS
— Officialrudeboydemi (@ManLikeDemi) August 14, 2018
— ATIKU everywhere u go! (@Kamsy55821670) August 14, 2018
Does it mean that it's only when @MBuhari is not around that we get to see real governance?
The difference between @ProfOsinbajo admin and @MBuhari admin is just too glaring.
Perhaps the old man should remain in London, let's see how much we can save of this country.
— Chudy (@Chudy1st) August 14, 2018
Buhari abeg stay London permanently, we take God beg you prof osinbajo go do d work walla pic.twitter.com/IhhWH9tYOM
— proton🇳🇬🇰🇪🇬🇼🇬 (@proton9494) August 14, 2018
The leader of the #EndSars movement, Segun Awosanya, has also been credited for his hard work to highlight the alleged abuses committed by the squad:
It took a sincere heart willing to see a change in the way things were done conventionally. Doesn't matter if an end came for SARs, what matters is we forced them to look into it. Thank you @segalink for your passion towards this course. You are appreciated. pic.twitter.com/7vjFKUC8NR
— Comfort O. S. Idoko (@comphie01) August 15, 2018
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigerian police have constantly been accused of unlawful arrest, high-handedness, humiliation, detention and extortion by Nigerians.
This prompted the formation of a social advocacy movement known as End Special Anti-Robbery Squad (END SARS) on social media.