Nigeria re-organizes "brutal" police unit
ABUJA, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria's acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday ordered the immediate overhauling of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) widely described by citizens as a "brutal" unit of the Nigerian police force.
A presidential statement confirmed the directive given to the Inspector General of Police, saying it followed persistent complaints and reports on the activities of the SARS that bordered on allegations of human rights violations.
Osinbajo directed the national police chief to reform the police special unit and ensure the constitution of an intelligence-driven unit, restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery and kidnapping, and apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offenses.
"The acting president has also directed the IG-P (inspector general of police) 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 Human Rights Law and the constitutionally guaranteed rights of suspects," the statement said.
The acting president also directed the National Human Rights Commission to set up a special panel that will conduct an investigation of the alleged unlawful activities of SARS in order to afford citizens the opportunity to present their grievances with a view to ensuring redress.
Since last year, there had been a public outcry over alleged unlawful activities of the SARS in Nigeria, as citizens called on the government to cut the powers of the police unit whose operatives had no proper means of identification.
Local lawyers and security experts have hailed the development as a major step toward decency and the protection of human rights.
"This is a victory for the people," said local human rights advocate Ladun Adegbite.
In compliance with the presidential directive, the police headquarters said a quick reorganization of its special unit has been done, with new commanders appointed to ensure a high level of professionalism.