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The notorious subunit of the force, the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), has been disbanded by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
On Sunday, after massive demonstrations demanding the scrapping of the unit over reports of violence and human rights abuses, Adamu made the announcement of the dissolution.
"The Nigerian Police Special Anti-Robbery Team, otherwise referred to as SARS, is hereby disbanded through all groups,
the 36 State Police Command and the Federal Capital Territory where they currently reside," the IGP said.
He also noted that the latest developments and the uproar of Nigerian parts have remained under continuous government surveillance and due evaluation.
According to him, citizens' inalienable rights to freedom of association and speech are accepted by the government.
‘SARS ended’, now what?With the new development, all officers and men currently serving in the unit are now expected to be redeployed with immediate effect.
New policing arrangements to address the offenses of armed robbery and other violent crimes that fall within the mandate of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad will also be presented in due course, according to the Police boss.
The unit was founded in 1992 to combat cases of armed robbery, kidnapping, and other violent crimes. But SARS, instead, over time, has gained notoriety for its reckless intimidation of innocent civilians through puerile profiling and wanton abuse of power.
Calls for the unit’s disbandment date as far back as 2017 and while the Federal Government and police chiefs have made several pledges to implement reforms, reports of SARS’ brutal activities against civilians have not abated.
The current wave of protest can be traced to October 3, after another report of extra-judicial killing in Delta State (the police have denied any killing took place).
It sparked fresh concerns and anger. Fuelled by this, and the outpouring of tales of traumatic experiences at the hands of officials of the unit, many Nigerians have held protests in many states, including Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory, Kaduna, Osun, Edo, and Imo.