Controversial Nigeria special police units reined in over citizen abuse allegations

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) check disturbances at a polling station in Kano, the commercial capital of northern Nigeria, on February 23, 2019.
Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) check disturbances at a polling station in Kano, the commercial capital of northern Nigeria, on February 23, 2019.
PHOTO: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP
  • Nigeria's top police chief barred a controversial special unit from carrying out stop-and-search operations and roadblocks over abuse accusations.
  • The Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) unit was previously reorganised in 2017 over similar allegations.
  • Local and international rights bodies, including Amnesty International, have long called for the special squads to be eliminated.


Lagos – Nigeria's top police chief on Sunday banned a controversial anti-robbery unit and other special agents from mounting roadblocks and carrying out stop-and-search operations over accusations of abuses.

Inspector-General of Police Muhammed Adamu said the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other tactical squads must stop such operations "with immediate effect".

He added in a statement that police officers may no longer work in plainclothes, only in uniform.

Adamu said the decision followed findings that "a few personnel" in undercover tactical squads have abused their position "to perpetrate all forms of illegality".

He said two FSARS agents and a civilian accomplice have been arrested and accused in Nigeria's economic capital Lagos of extorting a civilian.

Calls have grown in recent months for the police investigation branch to be shut down over accusations of unlawful arrests, torture and even murder of suspects.

The unit was already reorganised in 2017 over similar allegations.

'Meant to protect Nigerians'

The police chief also warned the special units "against the invasion of the privacy of citizens, particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorised search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices".

He said their remit was limited to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes.

Authorities will continue to monitor police officers and discipline those who contravene the rules.

Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo spoke out about the alleged abuses on Sunday.

"I am very concerned, in fact, very angry about what I see happening to young men and women who are arrested, in some cases maimed or killed, by men of the police force," his office said in a statement.

"These are individuals who are meant to protect Nigerians," Osinbajo said.

Local and international rights bodies, including Amnesty International, have long called for the special squads to be eliminated.

Did you know you can comment on this article? Subscribe to News24 and add your voice to the conversation.


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Until the matric exams are over, my family is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Self-isolating to ensure we don't miss any exams
13% - 142 votes
Following Covid-19 safety protocols, but still going out like normal
54% - 614 votes
Business as usual, we're not worried about the virus
33% - 380 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
16.22
(+0.68)
ZAR/GBP
21.02
(+0.61)
ZAR/EUR
18.90
(+1.04)
ZAR/AUD
11.40
(+0.89)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.87)
Gold
1877.12
(+0.49)
Silver
23.60
(+1.43)
Platinum
846.00
(-0.29)
Brent Crude
38.07
(-3.48)
Palladium
2216.00
(+0.70)
All Share
51684.70
(-0.41)
Top 40
47472.92
(-0.22)
Financial 15
9459.76
(-3.04)
Industrial 25
73405.64
(+1.00)
Resource 10
47245.91
(-1.21)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo