Amid social media campaign to scrap the police squad, the IGP on Sunday banned SARS officials from carrying out ‘stop and search’ operations on roads.
However, concerns remain on its implementation as similar bans had been announced in the past with little or no action to enforce it.
ASCAB in a statement by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, said it was not the first time the police high command had issued such orders banning the squad.
The group said gross violations of human rights are linked to SARS and that a change of structure without fundamental change of operatives of the structure will soon make the problems to reoccur.
The statement reads, “The police high command have banned SARS several times. It has become a ritual. But SARS continues to operative under different names or structure. What we see is like removing sour wine and putting it in the same old, rusty bottles. Nothing remarkable has changed in the police command structure that aids all forms of repression and extra-judicial killings
“It will be recalled that following public outcry in 2018 against indiscriminate arrests and detention, extortion and extrajudicial killings as well as other the horrendous human rights abuse of perpetrated by the operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad by setting up the Presidential Panel of Enquiry to investigate all complaints of human rights abuse. It noted that many Nigerians submitted reports and memorandum and gave clear evidence of police abuse but that the recommendations are yet to be implemented in 2020.
“Some of the recommendations made included the dismissal of 37 police officers from the force and the prosecution of 24 others, investigation of 22 officers involved in the violation of human rights of innocent citizens, payment of compensation of various sums in 45 complaints and tender of public apologies in five complaints and compliance with court orders in five matters.
“Other recommendations were the setting up of State and local government police and renaming of SARS to Anti-Robbery Section (ARS) which should operate under the intelligence unit of the police. The recommendations were accepted by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 3, 2019. But nothing has been done since then. The Inspector-General of Police and the Solicitor-General of the Federation/Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, were mandated to engage the National Human Rights Commission for a strategy of implementation within three months.
“To declare a ban on SARS again is nothing but policy summersault. It does show effective leadership neither does it portray the police authority as consistent.”
The group said if the reports were implemented it would have addressed major problems associated with the operative system of SARS and would have brought an end to its oppressive and inhuman modalities.
Falana said instead of ensuring that erring SARS operatives face the law, they had rather been treated like sacred cows.