The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, after days of public outcry and nationwide protests, on Sunday, has bowed to pressure, disbanded the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
The IGP said a new policing arrangement to address armed robbery and other violent crimes would be presented soon.
Adamu, in Abuja on Sunday, acknowledged the inalienable rights of citizens to freedom of association and expression.
Despite the disband announcement, the #EndSARS campaigners said they would not withdraw protest, insisting that the street rallies would continue until the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), issued an Executive Order scrapping the security tactical unit.
A leader of the protesters, Raphael Adebayo, in an interview with THE PUNCH, said the IG was being “clever by half” with his announcement that the SARS had been dissolved, adding that the #EndSARS campaigners were not convinced by his statement.
Adebayo, who is a Co-convener of the Centre for Liberty, in Abuja, insisted on a total overhaul and reform of the Nigeria Police Force.
He said, “We are not going to be fooled by the IG’s announcement. The President should either address Nigerians by announcing through an executive order, that he is disbanding the terrorist unit in the Nigeria Police Force or more protest would happen and it would continue to grow until the President takes responsibility"
“At the end of the day, this is deeper than ending SARS; this is about getting justice for all the people killed by SARS and the IG’s statement did not address that”
The Convener of #RevolutionNow Movement, Omoyele Sowore, also said the protesters did not believe that the scrapping of SARS was real, noting that shortly after the IG’s statement, some policemen still harassed protesters in Abuja on Sunday.
“As I’m speaking with you, there is an ongoing protest in Abuja and it is massive. They are heading to the Force headquarters because they are not convinced that the dissolution of SARS is real. People are very sceptical, cynical about the announcement”
Sowore who is also the former presidential candidate emphasised that the #EndSARS campaign also demand compensation for victims of police brutality and rights violations, noting that they also wanted the errant operatives to be publicly prosecuted.
However, the convener of #EndSARS Lagos, Olorunrinu Oduala, said her team would halt their protest, having decided to give the police and the government the benefit of the doubt on the announced SARS dissolution.
“All I know is that they have scrapped SARS; although we are skeptical because this same government has promised us several things in the past and failed on these promises but we will give them the benefit of the doubt”
As reported earlier, the IG had described the #EndSARS agitation as a manifestation of the natural desire of the citizens to participate in matters concerning policing and internal security in the nation.
Adamu disclosed that the clamour for the scrapping of the SARS in the Nigeria Police Force had been under constant monitoring and due assessment by the government.
“Following a review of the current developments and in due cognizance of the wide and legitimately-held concerns of well-meaning citizens on the existence and operations of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, as a responsive and citizens-oriented Police Force, it is hereby directed as follows:
“The Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police, otherwise known as SARS, is hereby dissolved across all Formations, the 36 State Police Commands and the Federal Capital Territory, where they currently exist.
“All officers and men currently serving in the unit are to be redeployed with immediate effect.
“New policing arrangements to address the offences of armed robbery, and other violent crimes that fall within the mandate of the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad shall be presented in due course.”
The IG noted that a Citizens and Strategic Stakeholders’ Forum would be formed to regularly interface with the leadership of the police at all levels and advise on police activities.