Operatives of the Force’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have henceforth been banned from searching the mobile phones, laptops and other electronic gadgets of citizens, according to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu.
The enforcement of this ban, the IGP said, is with immediate effect.
Adamu gave the directive in a letter dated October 5, 2020, titled, ‘Order and directives: Restrictions on the operations of F-SARS, SARS, IRT, STS, state anti-kidnapping units and other special units under any nomenclature that operates in mufti across all formation, zones and state commands.’ He said,
“henceforth the indiscriminate, unauthorised, 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”, Adamu added.
The IGP directed that 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 his Office 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.”
Adamu directed the CP X-Squad, Force Provost Marshall (FPM) and IGP Monitoring Unit to immediately coordinate and deploy joint teams across all the 36 States Commands and the FCT with a view to enforce the Order.
“Any personnel of the Special Units found violating the Order must be arrested and escorted to the Force Headquarters for appropriate actions”, he warned.
“Weekly update on this operation must be forwarded to the Office of the Inspector General of Police for review and appropriate directives.”
He said “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”, he said, urging the Force Police Public Relations Officer to ensure that the members of the public are widely informed of this development.
“In addition, the Force Police Public Relations Officer should coordinate with the Heads of all Commands to compile dedicated phone numbers and other real-time social media platforms through which citizens can furnish complains on any violation of this Order and avail the public”, Adamu added.