The Nigeria Police Force has insisted that it is impossible for it to totally disband its notorious Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS).
Nigerians have campaigned for years to have the unit scrapped after numerous well-documented incidents of abuse including harassment, extortion, torture, and extra-judicial murder.
The latest outrage against FSARS over the past weekend led the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to announce a number of restrictions to their operations on Sunday, October 4, 2020.
Despite the new measures announced by the IGP, Nigerians in many states have taken to the streets this week to call for the total disbandment of SARS.
However, Police spokesperson, Frank Mba, has insisted that the notorious unit is too important to scrap.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television on Friday, October 9, Mba said FSARS was formed years ago as a societal response to the challenges of crime that was taking hold of the country.
Describing the unit as ‘children of necessity’, he said the interventions of FSARS saved Nigeria from total embarrassment and restored sanity.
Mba said the Police Force can only listen to calls to reform the unit, but not to scrap it as it serves an important function.
“If the End SARS movement is a call for the total disbandment of SARS, I will tell you very clearly that it is difficult for any responsible organisation to walk that path taking into cognisance the amount of investment that the government has made in setting up that department and critical role that department is playing,” he said.
Mba also described some of those advocating for the scrapping of the unit as fake people, or people who are benefiting from criminal activities.
“Some of those pushing for #EndSARS are pseudo-activists, people who are desperate for public validation, and people who are looking to be seen as social media influencers. These are the people that post fake news,” he said.
According to new measures approved by IGP Adamu, FSARS and other tactical squads are banned from carrying out routine patrols, and other conventional low-risk duties including stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks, and traffic checks.
They are also banned from embarking on patrols or assignments without official uniform or tactical gear.
“The IGP has warned the tactical squads against the invasion of the privacy of citizens particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorized search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices.
“They are to concentrate and respond only to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes when the need arises,” an official statement read.
Many Nigerians have expressed little confidence in the new measures, especially since they were measures similarly announced in 2017, 2018, and 2019.