The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, overhauled the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) following a presidential order on Tuesday.
As part of the overhaul, SARS has been renamed Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), with a new commissioner of police appointed to head the unit.
Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, announced the changes in a statement on Tuesday, hours after Acting President Yemi Osinbajo ordered the immediate overhaul of SARS.
The changes are aimed at addressing repeated allegations of human rights violations levelled against SARS personnel by Nigerians.
“In the new arrangement, a new Commissioner of Police has been appointed as the overall head of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad nationwide,” Moshood said.
The Commissioner of Police (FSARS) is answerable to the Inspector General of Police through the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Department of Operations.
The IGP also altered FSARS’ mode of operation.
Prior to the overhaul, the FSARS was under the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (FCIID).
As part of the changes it would now operate under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja.
Explaining the changes further, Moshood said, “New FSARS Commanders are being appointed for the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) across the country that will now exist and operate in the State and Zonal Commands under the Commissioner of Police (F-SARS) at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.
“A Federal SARS Commander of a Rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) but not below Superintendent of Police (SP) will be in charge of FSARS in State and Zonal Commands across the Country.
In his directive to the IGP for the overhaul of SARS, the Acting President asked him to ensure that any unit that emerges from the overhaul is intelligence-driven, restricted to the prevention and detection of armed robbery, kidnapping, apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences, and nothing more.
According to Moshood, this is also reflected in the changes made.
“In observance of full compliance with the Presidential directives, the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad will be intelligence driven and will be restricted to the prevention and detection of Armed Robbery, kidnapping and the apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences only,” he said.
According to Moshood, steps have been taken to monitor the operations of FSARS to ensure that it complies strictly with the Presidential directives.
“All Commissioners of Police have been directed by the Inspector General of Police to comply with this directive with immediate effect and warn their personnel not to pose as SARS operatives,” he said.
“The IGP X-Squad and Monitoring Unit have been mandated to go round the Commands and Police Formations nationwide to ensure strict compliance with the Presidential directives and apprehend any erring police officer.”