IGP announces new squad “SWAT” to replace SARS

Nigeria’s head of police Mohammad Adamu has established a new Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) squad to “fill the gaps” left by the notorious police unit Federal Special Anti-robbery squad (FSARS).

The force spokesman Frank Mba said the IGP had also ordered all personnel of the disbanded SARS to report at force headquarters in Abuja for debriefing.

“The Inspector-General of Police, IGP M.A. Adamu, NPM, mni has, today, 13th October, 2020, 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 said.

Mba said prospective members of this new team will also “undergo psychological and medical examination to ascertain their fitness and eligibility for the new assignment.”

The SARS was dissolved on Sunday but there are allegations that they were still on the streets attacking and brutalizing protesters.

Just hours after Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday tried to assuage protesters by promising “extensive” reforms to stop the rising crisis of police brutality, another civilian was shot and killed by police during a protest in Surulere, Lagos State.

Protesters, who clamored for the dissolution of the unit, have continued to protest noting the government’s ineffectual promises of police reforms and investigations in the past.

The Guardian has earlier reported that the police boss ordered all state commissioners of police to ensure no officer and other insignia of the defunct SARS is seen in public.

In the “police wireless message” dated October 12, 2020, seen by The Guardian, the state commissioners of police are to ensure “strict compliance” of the directive.

Investigation and prosecution of erring officers are the latest demands of the protesters with the standing demand that police brutality in the country must end.

With celebrities adding their voice to the #EndSARS hashtag, it jumped to the top global trend on Twitter and drew international support from UK-based footballers like Mesut Ozil and Marcus Rashford, musicians and actors.

Nigeria’s global superstars, Wizkid and Davido, who are also part of this generation of protesters, have been physically present in London and Abuja – where the latter’s presence stopped police officers from shooting at protesters.

The protests against the police have largely been organized on social media, fuelled by personal accounts of police abuses and videos of brutal incidents, including the beating of civilians and the firing of live ammunition at protesters.

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