Barely 48 hours after drawing the curtain on the Federal Special Anti- Robbery Squad (F-SARS), the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu, has ordered the personnel of the dreaded squad to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, for debriefing.
Conscious of the operatives’ involvement in professional misconduct, occasioned by extra-judicial killings, extortion, brutality and sundry cases of rights’ violation, the IGP has further directed that they be subjected to psychological and medical examination.
Recall that the excesses of the disbanded squad had triggered a wave of protests across major cities in the country. The protesters, mainly youths, had activated the #EndSARS platform, to cause an end to a reign of near absurdity foisted by the unit, which primary mandate was to fight armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes. The ongoing protests have also turned violent in some instances, resulting in casualties on both sides of the divide.
While many had thought that the dissolution order will suffice, the demonstrators remained adamant, demanding, in the main, an executive order, to stamp a legal seal on the decision. Not even an assurance by President Muhammadu Buhari could calm the frayed nerves of the activists, who also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all protesters.
They also underscored the urgent need to offer compensation to victims and families of the depravity of SARS. Again, analysts had expressed worries that redeploying the special operatives to join conventional police personnel, without first putting them through a process of debriefing, was dangerous, having regards to their orientation. Accordingly, the police chief has summoned the operatives to Abuja for the purpose.
A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, said: “The IGP has, in accordance with Section 18 (10) of the Police Act 2020, ordered all personnel of the defunct SARS to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.
“The officers are expected to undergo this process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties.” Mba noted that carefullytrained unit will, from time to time, undertake psychological management and reorientation of police officers.
He said: “The medical examination will be carried out by the newly set-up Police Counselling and Support Unit (PCSU), a Unit, which henceforth shall engage in psychological management, re-orientation and training of officers of the Force deployed for tactical operations and other duties.
“The Unit, which is domiciled with the Force Medical Department and coordinated by the Force Medical Officer, has its membership drawn from amongst psychiatrists, psychologists, medics, pastors and imams, public relations practitioners, civil society and other human rights groups with relevant qualifications and expertise.”
Meanwhile, the IGP has set up a new Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team that will fill the gaps arising from the dissolution of the defunct SARS. “Prospective members of this new team will also undergo psychological and medical examination to ascertain their fitness and eligibility for the new assignment. “They are to commence training at the different Police tactical training institutions nationwide, next week,” Mba said.
The FPRO explained further: “While personnel from the Police Commands in the South-East and the South-South will be trained at the Counter-Terrorism College, Nonwa-Tai, Rivers State, those from the Police Commands from the North and the South-West will be trained at the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ende, Nasarawa State and the Police Mobile Force Training College, Ila-Orangun, Osun State, respectively”.
The IGP reaffirmed his irrevocable commitment towards the successful and holistic implementation of the Police reforms. This was as he further enjoined members of the public, particularly protesting citizens, to exercise restraint and allow measures being put in place to come to fruition and engender a Police Force that would meet the yearnings and aspirations of the citizenry.