IG bans SARS, others from searching people’s phones, laptops, other electronic devices

  • Stops policemen in mufti from stop and search, mounting roadblocks

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu, has banned policemen, especially men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) across the country from searching people’s mobile phones, laptops and other electronic devices.

The IGP also banned policemen in mufti from engaging in stop and search duties, mounting of checkpoints or roadblocks on highways, adding that all operatives of the various special task forces are banned from wearing mufti on duties.

The new directive is contained in a statement where he warned that any of the officers abuse his or her powers in a manner that degrades, endangers or threatens the life and other fundamental rights of the citizens shall be promptly arrested and if found culpable, shall be dismissed from service and even charged to court.

According to the statement personally signed by the IG: “Any police personnel that, henceforth abuses his or her powers in a manner that degrades, endangers or threatens the life and other fundamental rights of the citizens shall be promptly arrested, processed through our internal disciplinary machinery and if found culpable, shall be dismissed from service. In addition, such personnel could be charged to court in consonance with their level of criminal liability in the instance.

“All the operatives of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), State Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS}, Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Special Tactical Squad (STS}, Anti-Kidnapping Squads (AKS) and any other Unit of the Force that operates in mufti under any special nomenclature are banned from routine patrols on the highways and streets.

“Their operational deployments are to be limited to responses to specific security breaches including armed robbery, kidnapping or other violent incidents and in such instance, they must be expressly authorised by the appropriate police authority.

“All the operatives of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS}, State Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT}, Special Tactical Squad (STS), Anti-Kidnapping Squads (AKS) and any other Unit of the Force that operates in mufti under any special nomenclature are also henceforth, banned from engaging in conventional, low-risk duties including stop and search, mounting checkpoints or road blocks, undertaking traffic duties, searching of the persons or assets of any citizens on the streets and other functions which are within the purview of the uniformed conventional police detachments.

“The indiscriminate, unauthorized, and degrading search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart electronic devices of citizens by the Special Units and all Police operatives of different Formations, Zones, Commands and Units is hereby banned. The only exception is if such an act is in furtherance to a specific case that has been reported and is a subject of criminal investigation in specific Formation, Command, Police Station or Unit. In which case, due process must be followed by the investigating team.

“All recent cases of abuses of power and violation of rights of citizens by FSARS, SARS, IRT, STS and other police Teams should be compiled by the Heads of all Police Formations, Commands and Units and forwarded to the Office of the Inspector General of Police not later than Friday 9th October, 2020.

“The returns to include the Dates of the Incident, Venues of the Incidents, the Special Team Involved, Details of the Officers Involved, Details of the Incident, Fatalities/ Injuries/ Damages (If Any), Actions Initiated by the Head of the Concerned Command, and the Current Status of the Matter.

“The CP X-Squad, Force Provost Marshall (FPM) and IGP Monitoring Unit are to immediately coordinate and deploy joint teams across all the 36 States Commands and the FCT with a view to enforce this Order.

“Any personnel of the Special Units found violating the Order must be arrested and escorted to the Force Headquarters for appropriate actions. Weekly update on this operation must be forwarded to the Office of the Inspector General of Police for review and appropriate directives.

“All Heads of Departments, Zonal Inspectors General of Police, Commissioners of Police, Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers or Sectional Heads are to strengthen their supervisory control procedures and frameworks towards enforcing discipline among all ranks in their jurisdiction as they stand the risk of being held vicariously liable for supervisory ineptitude should any component of this Order be violated by operatives of the Special Units in their Formations/ Commands. In this regard, they are to also set up a Monitoring and Enforcement Teams to give effect to this Order and Directives as a complement to the Team being dispatched from the Force Headquarters.”