Some of the stranger than fiction activities of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have started to spill into the open following their ban order by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
Adamu on Sunday banned the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other Tactical Squads of the Nigeria Police including the Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Anti-Cultism Squad operating at the federal, zonal and state command levels, from carrying out routine patrols and other conventional low-risk duties – stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks, traffic checks, among others with immediate effect.
Apparently inspired, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist movement, is currently accusing SARS and other security agents of secretly, abducting, killing their members and selling their organs for rituals.
IPOB specifically mentioned the SARS team at Awkuzu, in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State, the team at Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State, as well as the Anti Kidnapping Squad stationed at Enugwu-Ukwu, in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra as most culpable.
IPOB Spokesman, Emma Powerful, refers to Nigeria’s security agents as callous beings in security uniform, alleging that they sell off the body parts of some of their victims to ritualists who make use of them.
“For instance Mazi Isaac Okwuchukwu from Ogidi, Mazi Solomon Nwankwo from Oraifite and Mazi Tochukwu Onyebuchi from Nkpor and many others, were all taken away and killed by the men of SARS at Awkuzu in Oyi”, he says.
Adding, IPOB said, “at the helm of this atrocity and inhumanity is the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS). IPOB wish to bring to the notice of the International Community the unabated secret abduction, torture, detention, and killing of our members by the wicked Nigeria security agents.
“SARS in Awkuzu, Anambra and Oyigbo in Igweocha Rivers, as well as Anti-kidnapping squad stationed at Enugu Ukwu in Anambra, are in a constant hunt for our members. They have also been responsible for the disappearance of many innocent Biafrans some of whom they have wasted thinking they are IPOB members.
“Many Biafran youths detained illegally in their different cells have disappeared mysteriously without any trace of their bodies until recently when our intelligence revealed that body parts of these innocent victims are being sold to ritualists.
“Some are destroyed with acid to conceal evidence. IPOB members in Anambra, Enugu, Igweocha Rivers, Delta, Abia, Imo and other states are missing every day”, pointing out that it is regrettable that many parents and families looking for their children detained illegally in SARS cells across Biafraland, may not see them again.
Continuing, the separatist group said “since 1945 the elimination of Biafra civilian population and unarmed citizens has been continued unabated in Nigeria. But it’s time to stop this systematic massacre of Biafrans in Nigeria. IPOB will no longer tolerate this dastardly act and state-sponsored genocide. The world must rise against this abomination.”
Powerful says it’s rather a shame and an international embarrassment that the same Nigeria security which could not protect Borno State Governor from Boko Haram terrorists who attacked his convoy and killed no fewer than 30 persons including security operatives, is busy chasing innocent IPOB members in Biafra land.
‘’Instead of dealing with the terrorists that are daily reducing the number of Nigeria soldiers and civilians, the security agents are busy crushing unarmed freedom agitators. We are sending Save Our Soul (SOS) message to the United Kingdom High Commission in Nigeria, Amnesty International in Nigeria, Human Rights Watch, US Embassy in Abuja, Canada, African Union, Commonwealth, Europe Union, UN Human Rights, and civilised nations across the globe including civil society organisations to please come to our rescue.
“We call for unbiased investigation of this matter. For God’s sake the international community should rise up against this wickedness. They must prevail on the wicked Nigeria security particularly SARS in Awkuzu, Oyigbo, Aba, and Enugu to stop killing our people without provocation.
“They should also stop desecration of their bodies by selling them off as human parts to ritualists”, IPOB said, and demanded justice for the innocent victims, stressing that the international community should not keep quiet because it’s black and urged them to bring the perpetrator to book without delay.
He also claimed that IPOB has no hand in the alleged killing of a SARS operative in Oyigbo, Rivers State, adding, “Police should look for those responsible for the alleged killing and stop linking IPOB with the incident. We are a peaceful movement seeking the restoration of Biafra. We are not after security agents, but any day they push us into arms struggle they will live in regrets all through their lives. Our peaceful disposition should not be taken for a weakness.”
After an online outrage on the activities of SARS operatives, the Police in a statement on Sunday announced their ban as former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and many more called for action to be taken on SARS.
“SARS was set up to confront violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping and other related crimes. However, the unit has today morphed into an oppressor of the Nigerian masses who strive every day for a better life. Reports of intimidation, harassment and outright extortion by officers of SARS have continued unabated”, Atiku said.
The Police also announced that no personnel of the Force is authorised to embark on patrols or tactical assignments without police uniforms. ‘’They must always appear in their police uniforms or approved tactical gear”.
The directives of the police high command came against the backdrop of findings that some personnel of the Tactical Squads hide to perpetrate all forms of illegality, contrary to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement establishing the squads.
Adamu therefore, warned that SARS should not invade the privacy of Nigerian citizens through indiscriminate and unauthorised 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’’, he said.
While pointing out that SARS is a critical component of the Police in fighting violent crimes, he strongly condemned the acts of unprofessionalism, abuse of human rights and high-handedness by some personnel of the Squads, and accordingly ordered the X-Squad and the Monitoring Unit to embark on immediate and massive nationwide monitoring of activities of Tactical Squads and other police officers on the road.
“They are to ensure prompt arrest, investigation and prosecution of all erring police officers who violate these directives and other extant regulations of the Force”, Adamu stated, warning that the Commissioner of Police in charge of FSARS and other State Area Commanders will be held liable for any misconduct within their Area of Responsibility (AOR).