The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has dissolved the infamous subunit of the force, the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS).
Adamu made the announcement of the dissolution on Sunday, days after widespread protests demanding scrapping of the unit over allegations of brutality and human rights violations.
“The Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police, otherwise known as SARS, is hereby dissolved across all formations, the 36 state police command and the Federal Capital Territory where they currently exist,” the IGP said.
He also noted that the current developments and the outcry by sections of Nigerian have remained under constant monitoring and due assessment by the government.
According to him, the government acknowledges the inalienable rights of citizens to freedom of association and expression.
With the new development, all officers and men currently serving in the unit are now expected to be redeployed with immediate effect.
New policing arrangements to address the offenses of armed robbery and other violent crimes that fall within the mandate of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad will also be presented in due course, according to the Police boss.
He further noted that a citizens’ and strategic stakeholders’ forum will be formed to regularly interface with the leadership of the police at all levels and advice on police activities.
Beyond that, Adamu said an investigation team to deal with the reports of crimes committed against citizens, will be constituted and will include civil society organisations for transparency as culprits will be punished.
The unit was founded in 1992 to combat cases of armed robbery, kidnapping, and other violent crimes. But SARS, instead, over time, has gained notoriety for its reckless intimidation of innocent civilians through puerile profiling and wanton abuse of power.
Calls for the unit’s disbandment date as far back as 2017 and while the Federal Government and police chiefs have made several pledges to implement reforms, reports of SARS’ brutal activities against civilians have not abated.
The current wave of protest can be traced to October 3, after another report of extra-judicial killing in Delta State (the police have denied any killing took place).