Monday, 05 October 2020 11:52

SARS: Nigeria 'Rogue' Police Unit Banned From Stop and Search

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In the midst of increasing outrage at everyday violence and crimes allegedly committed by its policemen, Nigeria's police inspector general has barred an infamous unit from carrying out stop and search duties and setting up roadblocks.

Mohammed Adamu also said uniforms would always be worn by officers of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).

Images posted on social media lately tend to show police extorting bribes and even firing persons.

Nigerians seek the disbandment of SARS.

On Twitter, the hashtag # EndSARS is trending, prompted by the suspected murder of a young man by unit officers in the city of Lagos on Saturday.

Most users also use the hashtag to post accounts of abuse linked to the police force.

On Sunday, Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos tweeted: "Reasonable steps will be taken, and soon, too."

SARS and other tactical police units have been banned from "invasion of privacy of citizens particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorised search of mobiles, laptops and smart devices," Mr Adamu said in a statement on Sunday.

They should, he said, focus on cases of armed robberies, kidnapping and other violent crimes. He also said that police commissioners and commanders would be held liable for misconduct of officers in the areas they were in charge of.

Three years ago Nigeria's police chief ordered an immediate re-organisation of the SARS after public outcry, but little, if any, changed according to an Amnesty International investigation published in June.

The rights group accused SARS officers of using "torture and other ill-treatment to execute, punish and extract information from suspects".

It documented 82 cases between January 2017 and May 2020.

Amnesty found the group allegedly targeted men between the ages of 17 and 30.

"Young men with dreadlocks, ripped jeans, tattoos, flashy cars or expensive gadgets are frequently targeted by SARS," the organisation said.

"The Nigerian authorities must go beyond lip service and ensure there is real reform, " Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said about the findings.

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