If you’re Nigerian, there are two times you must not believe a promise. The first is when your Nigerian mother says she wants to help you save your money. The second is when the Nigerian government promises to reform the Police.
In this article, we profile all the times the Nigerian government have promised to reform SARS. But yeah, you know how that song ends. (Annoyingly short and leaves you wanting more like a Joeboy record.)
In December 2017, the Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, banned the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) from conducting “stop and search operations”, except when necessary.
The IGP promised to restructure and reposition the unit for effective service delivery after Nigerians cried out about the human right abuses committed by SARS officials using the #EndSARS.
Under that arrangement, he also stated that a Commissioner of Police will be the overall head of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad nationwide under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja. He also gave out hotlines for people to report a violation of their human rights.
In August 2018, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, while acting as Vice-President, stated that he had directed the Inspector General of Police to “overhaul the management and activities of SARS”, with immediate effect.
This was after Nigerians complained bitterly about the injustice being meted out on them by officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
Again, the Inspector General of Police ordered the re-organisation of SARS. In the new arrangement, the IGP overhauled SARS into FSARS and he stated that: “The Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad previously under the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (FCIID) is henceforth to operate under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters Abuja. The Commissioner of Police (FSARS) is answerable to the Inspector General of Police through the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Department of Operations”.
He also ordered SARS operatives from conducting “Stop and Search” raids.
In January 2019, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu ordered the immediate “disbandment” of SARS.
I think we know how that ended.
In June 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the Inspector-General of Police, the Ministry of Justice and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to “work out modalities for the implementation of the report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) within three months”.
Of course, in hindsight, we can see that the directive was audio. (You can find it in your favorite music streaming platforms.)
Following outrage by many Nigerians on social media, the “Presidency”, the President, the Vice-President and the Inspector-General of Police have again issued platitudes about SARS and so-called reforms.
Just yesterday, the President again tweeted:
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Police Force also came out with this statement earlier:
But in all of this, I think you have already formed a conclusion. Please, let me articulate it for you: So-called reforms hardly work in Nigeria, and the only thing that can stop this consistent human right violations is to scrap and end the Police unit called SARS.
If you’ll be protesting peacefully, read this for tips on how to prepare for the EndSARS protests: Going For The #EndSARS Protests? Here’s Everything You’ll Need
If you can’t go to the protests for any reason, that’s okay too. Here are a couple of ways you can help out: Can’t Join The #ENDSARS Protests? Here’s How You Can Help From Home
Wondering what’s going on? Here’s a quick recap of what the protests are about: Everything You Need To Know About The #EndSars Protest