The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, has barred operatives of the controversial Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), from conducting stop and search on roads.
He also stopped them from acting as bodyguards to prominent Nigerians just as he warned them against further delving into civil matters including land disputes, personal disputes, debt collection and all matters considered civil.
The police chief said all operatives of the anti-robbery unit of his organization must henceforth always appear in official units clearly marked for identification.
Idris, who spoke during a meeting he held with commanders of the Police Anti-Robbery Squad, at the Force Headquarters, said the Nigeria Police Force under his leadership was concerned by the recent clamour by some Nigerians that the unit be scrapped and attendant opposite reactions by others.
He said they can only conduct stop and search operation on roads only when necessary, adding that such operation must be only on the permission of Commissioner of SARS or Deputy Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners of Police in charge of operations in the commands they are answerable to.
Any operation conducted by the operatives, according to the Inspector General of Police, must be in a “non-discriminatory, proportionary, fair and accountable manner.”
Other measures which the police leadership has taken to reform the SARS, according to the IGP, were the designation of the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of operations to lead the unit as its strategic commander, appointment of a Commissioner of Police as a field Commander of all activities related to SARS and the direct supervision of SARS operations in each state Command under the Commissioner of Police in charge of the state through the Deputy Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners of Police in charge of operations.
As part of the reform measures, the police boss hinted that psychometric test, training and continuous assessment of operatives will be deployed to SARS to determine the suitability or otherwise of their role in keeping with acceptable standard operating procedures.
He also said the unit would be confined to its established role of preventing, confronting and solving cases related to armed robbery and generally protect the public from armed robbers.