There is palpable tension and jubilation in the Nigerian Police Force across the country following the decentralization of the Special Anti Robbery Squad(SARS) and the disbandment of the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) and Special Tactical Squad (STS), and other investigation team by the Inspector General of Police(IGP), Mohammed Adamu, Monday.
The IGP had during his maiden meeting with commissioners of police and above at the force headquarters, announced the decentralization of the SARS and the disbandment of the SIP, STS and other investigation teams.
Before the disbandment, SARS, which was renamed Federal SARS, had its headquarters at the police force headquarters in Abuja and headed by a commissioner of police who reported directly to the then IGP Ibrahim Idris.
Since the disbandment Monday, there has been palpable tension, confusion and jubilation in some quarters as to which of the investigation team aside the SIP, STS, “or any other such teams under whatever name” the IGP was referring to as being scrapped.
As such there has been lobbying by top police personnel, especially those who head such investigation teams, to remain in their places of work.
The IGP said that the “re-positioning process will eventually cascade down to the Zonal and State Command levels.
“The essence is to restore order and apply a break to the current slide in policing standards, discourage the proliferation of multiplicity of outfits competing for operational space in the most unprofessional manner. We shall enhance the capacity of the Force towards situating our operations within the principles and practice of Intelligence-led policing and human rights standards, and align our operations to modern dynamics.”
Daily Sun gathered that commissioners of police have been contacting SARS commanders in their states to hand over operations as directed by the IGP.
It was also gathered that others have scheduled meetings with their coordinators for Wednesday; and that commissioners are targeting the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), who they have been contacting to hand over.
Sources, however, tell Daily Sun that the IRT might not be among the disbanded teams, as it was established on a firm footing, in line with due process.
That not withstanding, it was gathered that heads of the unit have been contacted to report to the DIG on Wednesday for a meeting where they would be informed about the next line of action.
It was also gathered that heads of the investigations teams are already writing their hand over notes to be submitted to their successors.
Some police officers who spoke with Daily Sun, but do not want to be mentioned on print, said there was wild jubilation over the disbandment of SARS, as the outfit was beginning to generate bad blood amongst the law enforcement community.
The sources said that the composition of the outfit, which was hitherto headed by a junior officer whose hands were already full with other engagements, did not go down well with superior officers as he was said to be using the name of the IGP to intimidate them and as cover for his lapses.
Daily Sun’s visit to SARS office showed that some of the personnel are happy with the disbandment, while others are grumbling even as the day to day operations of the outfits is still ongoing.
Personnel of the outfits were seen in groups discussing the disbandment and expressing the hope that the coming days would be better.
When contacted, Force public relations officer, Frank Mba, said the IRT was not among the investigation teams scrapped by the IGP.
Mba, in a telephone interview, maintained that SARS was not scrapped as has been speculated in the media, explaining that the decentralization of SARS was for the benefit of Nigerians and to bring the police closer to the people.
He said the teams that were scrapped immediately were the SIP, headed by retired AIG Ali Amodu, STF and STS.
“The decentralization of SARS is actually a legitimate and constitutional issue. If you look at the constitutional of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section 215, Sub Section 3, specifically states that the command and control of the police shall be vested in the IGP.
“As a matter of fact, constitutionally It is actually a misnomer to have a department as strong and operationally powerful like the SARS team operating in a state without records to the CP of the state. And let me also say this that for Nigerians, it also bringing policing nearer to them, because if the command and control of SARS is domiciled at force headquarters, it means that if somebody in Bayelsa State has an issue with SARS operatives, he cannot find succor in the commissioner of police in the state because the boys are not under him, and the implication is that they have to go to Abuja to resolve the matter.
“…We want a police that is citizen-centered, we want a police force that is accountable to the grassroots and to the people they are serving. We want a police force that is controlled by the people, so everything we are doing is to bring unity of command and unity of control closer to the people.”
“And let me also let you know that the commissioners of police are not just taking over SARS for fun. In the police force we are taught that benefit and burden go together,” the police spokesman explained.