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EndSARS: Uncertainty surrounds SWAT one year after

•Nothing like elite squad –Source •Budgetary financial constraints hampered full deployment –Police

A cloud of uncertainty has continued to surround the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) established by the Force Headquarters, in the wake of the disbandment of the dreaded Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) last year. Sunday Telegraph reports that, following the October 2020 protest against Police brutality, among other demands, then Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, had announced the replacement of SARS with SWAT.

Apart from reports that operatives of the elite squad underwent a special training in Nasarawa State, nothing has been heard about it since then. Sunday Telegraph learnt that the exercise was done to douse the tension which engulfed the nation following the #EndSARS protests in which youths were protesting against Police brutality and bad governance.

A senior police officer, who spoke with Sunday Telegraph on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter, said there is nothing like SWAT. The source said there were no proper arrangements and preparations for it. “There was no budgetary allocation for SWAT.

The protest just erupted and SWAT came to be. “Those who were trained were not deployed. As a matter of fact, the training was not completed. Some completed theirs and others were just asked to go that they would call them back. “If they said they were deployed, when did they graduate? Where are the weapons? Why was it not reported in the media, like they showed some of them during training? They only made those who go through the so-called training to suffer as they were asked to come and be part of what did not exist.”

However, the force headquarters through its Force Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Commissioner of Police Frank Mba, attributed the failure to fully deploy operatives of the SWAT across the country to “budgetary and financial constraints”. CP Frank Mba, who made the disclosure in response to Sunday Telegraph’s enquiry on the status of SWAT, said it was an ongoing project. He noted that many states had evolved different interventionist squads, to deal with violent crimes such as banditry, kidnapping, cultism among others.

He said: “SWAT is an on-going Tactical and Operational Project by the Nigeria Police Force. The foundational members of the SWAT Teams were carefully selected, screened and trained (with support of our International and Developmental partners). Currently, we have SWAT Teams operating at basic levels in some states of the Federation.

“However, due to budgetary and financial constraints, we have not been able to acquire the specilialised weapons, equipment and kits necessary for the full deployment and optimization of the SWAT Teams. “The good news however is that the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force, both at the National and State Commands levels have taken strategic operational measures to fill the void created by the disbandment of SARS.

“Today, different states of the Federation have different anti-crime Tactical Squads created and customised to deal with peculiar crime situations in the various states. These include: Rapid Response Squads (RRS), Anti – Kidnapping Squads, Anti- Cultism Squads, Anti-Banditry Squads, Anti-Violent Crimes Squads, amongst others.”

 

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