By Adewole Kehinde
It is no longer news that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad now known as Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad has received the attention of the Presidency via a Presidential Directive.
Before the presidential directive, it may interest the general public that IGP Ibrahim Idris has in December 2017 commenced the overhaul of SARS by appointing a Commissioner of Police to take charge of the new FSARS in the person of amiable CP Haliru Gwandu, to be supervised by DIG Habila Joshak, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations Department at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.
As part of the overhaul, the IGP also directed that a FSARS Commander of the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and not below Superintendent of Police (SP) will be in charge of State and Zonal Commands of FSARS across the Country.
It may interest the general public especially the agitator of #EndSARS that the Committee on the Overhaul of SARS has developed a new FSARS Organizational Policy Framework and Operational Guidelines and Procedures has been shared with the officers for strict compliance.
Also pending when a new outfit with proper identification will be made available to the personnel of FSARS, the FSARS operatives are to wear Police uniforms with full identification.
Aside the fact that FSARS Operatives are to go through rigorous medical/psychological screening and Human Rights protection orientation programmes and Processes, all new Police recruit will also go through the same process henceforth.
At a stakeholder meeting held on Friday, August 24, 2018, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris represented by DIG Habila Joshak, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations Department, along with Commissioner of Police Federal SARS, and DCP Amaechi Elumelu in charge of the IGP’s X-Squad and other senior Officers where the Media and the public were addressed on the progress made so far in the overhaul of Special Anti-Robbery Squad, now known as FSARS.
The critical Stakeholders meeting had in place Mr Segun Awosanya, Convener of #EndSARS and head of Universal Institutional Reform Advocacy Foundation and Dr Femi Amosun, Professor Olu Ogunsakin represented by Mr Ayo Omotade, Mr Asekome Oteiku, Director Legal/Admin International Human Rights Protection, Ayo Akani and Team from Lincoln Carter Foundation and other key Stakeholders.
Addressing the gathering, DIG Joshak Habila stressed that the overhaul of SARS was beyond rhetoric and real reform was taking place. He noted among other things that Federal SARS operatives had been ordered not to attend to civil or commercial matters again but strictly look into Armed Robbery and Kidnapping cases only.
Also speaking at the stakeholder meeting, the CP FSARS, CP Habiru Gwandu informed the gathering of the creation of a Human Rights Desk in every States of the Federation to address cases of infractions against members of the public by FSARS personnel anywhere in the country in collaboration with other Human Rights organisations.
He went further to note that the Police have involved the services of psychologists and counsellors in the ongoing screening of FSARS operatives.
The head of IGP’s X-Squad, a unit with the mandate of enforcing discipline in the Nigeria Police Force, DCP Amaechi Elumelu stated that the screening and mobilization of FSARS operatives would not be business as usual again, pointing out that anyone who would become an operative would go through rigorous orientation, Human Rights training and other screening processes that will includes the evaluation of their previous records on Human Rights.
He announced the setting up of the Custody Records Management System which will be unveiled by the Inspector General of Police very soon. He explained that this system would contain the records of arrests, detentions and welfare details of suspects, noting that this system would discourage arbitrary arrest of people and ensure that suspects are charged to court within 24 hours according to the law.
The man who spearheaded the #ENDSARS campaign, Mr Segun Awosanya appreciated the President Buhari for the swift action in ordering the overhaul of SARS, noting that the government was a listening one. He called for trust between citizens and the Police noting that “if it is well with the Police, it is well with the nation.” He further said that he would be giving all it takes to support the Police Force and promised to raise funds for the overhaul of SARS now known as FSARS. The Trust fund will be managed by an independent body with regular auditing from reputable auditing firm.
I am using the opportunity to call on the Presidency to made adequate fund available as the overhaul of FSARS will only be effective when there is adequate funding to carry out Medical/Psychological evaluation of all FSARS personnel; new training program to be organized by the Force in collaboration with some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Local and International NGOs, and other Human Rights Organizations on core Police Duties, Observant of Human Rights and Handling, Care and Custody of Suspects; Redesigning of new uniform with identity name tag for all FSARS personnel throughout the Country and establishment of Human Right Desk across the 36 States and the FCT.