President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to address the concerns of Nigerians.
The President’s directives followed the ongoing protests against brutality and extortion by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
In a series of tweets on Friday, President Buhari ordered the police chief to reform SARS nationwide after meeting with the police chief.
“The IG already has my firm instructions to conclusively address the concerns of Nigerians regarding these excesses, & ensure erring personnel are brought to justice,” he said.
“I appeal for patience and calm, even as Nigerians freely exercise their right to peacefully make their views known.
“I met again with the IGP tonight. Our determination to reform the police should never be in doubt. I am being briefed regularly on the reform efforts ongoing to end police brutality and unethical conduct, and ensure that the Police are fully accountable to the people.
“The vast majority of men and women of the Nigeria Police Force are patriotic and committed to protecting the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians, and we will continue to support them to do their job.”
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police force was put together to tackle robbery and crimes related to armed robbery within the country, but the unit has for quite a while been overreaching in its operations across the nation.
Without any legislation or order, the unit has morphed itself into some form of anti-graft agency, harassing many young Nigerians, especially men who spot dreadlocks and other forms of fancy head styles.
What would have been associated with culture and the arts, seemed to have been labeled a criminal act by SARS officials, one which operatives of the unit on routine patrols have reportedly tackled either by extorting various individuals or killing them in the name of attempting to arrest them for crimes that never get disclosed nor tried.
More often than not, encounters between men of the SARS unit and the civilian populace have ended in infringements of rights and a show of lawlessness on the part of those who swore to uphold the law and protect the citizens.