SARS operatives ignore IGP Adamu, mount roadblocks across Nigeria
There are strong indications that officers of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) on Monday resumed routine patrols and stop and search duties, in flagrant disregard for Inspector-General Muhammed Adamu’s directive restricting them from Nigerian roads.
As part of measures to curb the deadly and corrupt conduct of the infamous police unit, Mr. Adamu had on Sunday banned all FSARS personnel including other tactical formations of the police from operating on the nation’s roads.
The order which came amid backlash from Nigerians over the nefarious activities of the squad, warned the officers to discontinue all activities bordering routine patrols, stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks, traffic checks, among others — with immediate effect.
FSARS agents were also ordered to always appear in their police uniforms or approved tactical gear, and respond only to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes when the need arises.
It was, however, business as usual on Monday morning as personnel of the notorious police unit continued from where they left off, to the chagrin of Nigerians.
The operatives confirmed widespread fears that Mr. Adamu’s directive was a haphazard decision taken to pacify the public and dissuade those organising a protest from proceeding with their plans.
Rights activist Segun Awosanya shared footage of police roadblocks on his Twitter handle Monday afternoon.
The video emerged shortly after it was taken in Girei, Adamawa State, at about 11:41 a.m. on October 5, the next morning after Mr. Adamu’s directive.
Mr. Awosanya retweeted an update from a handle @sars_watch, which quoted a top police officer to have said Mr. Adamu’s ban on SARS has only been seen on social media, as “No official documents have been relayed to their offices to this effect yet.”
Responding to Mr. Awosanya’s tweet, other Nigerians shared their own experiences with FSARS personnel on Monday.
@Isamaila_Gdk tweeted: “I can confirm that #FSARS are on duty today.”
Another Twitter user @azikuwe said, “They just stopped my vehicle along Udi-enugu right now doing normal stop and search.”
A Lagosian said on social media that the officers were sighted on Ago Palace Way “doing their usual patrol” on Monday.
Toba Adeyeye also shared a video wondering why officers are still on the road despite contrary directive from their most-senior commander.
Nigerians have expressed skepticism about the repetitive sanctions and “overhauls” of the SARS structure, which have failed to reform the unit over the years.
Skeptics argue that the latest ban, just like the others before it, would do little in checking the excesses of some cruel and high handed SARS agents.
An outright scrapping of the unit, they say, would be more effective in eradicating police brutality in the country.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said he was concerned about the atrocities of SARS and urged calm as authorities find a sustainable resolve to the crisis.
On Monday, a federal lawmaker, Akin Alabi, filed a motion at the House of Representatives seeking urgent dissolution of SARS as a department of the Nigerian Police Force.
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