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NGO recommends how to reform FSARS, suggests alternative police unit

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A NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisation dedicated to improving security governance, Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN), has suggested ways to improve operations of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS).

The organisation also suggested the establishment of an alternative police organ.

In a policy brief released on Friday, the NGO said it decided to present a solution in the light of the”underlying issues of extrajudicial killings, torture, unlawful arrests and extortion which have contributed to making SARS a shadow of itself and a threat to the society it came to rescue”.

To strengthen service delivery, it recommended a unification of the functions of already existing police units, including the Intelligence Response Team, Anti Kidnapping, AntiCultism Unit, Anti Car Theft, and Special Tactical Squad.

These, it said, will be brought under a new section that may be called an Anti-Heinous Crimes Section (AHCS).

“This section can take on a semi-autonomous position comparable to that of the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), reporting directly to the IGP with the DIG FCID playing a supervisory role,” PWAN recommended regarding its structure.

“At the federal level, it will be headed by an AIG. In the Zonal and state levels, they will be headed by a DCP and ACP respectively, while they report directly to the Zonal AIG and CP commands. The respective heads of the Zonal and State CID will also play a supervisory role.”

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The aim of this new establishment, the NGO said, is to instil accountability and efficacy in the force and create a means to purge the police of “bad eggs”.

It recommended that before a policeman is recruited into the AHCS, he or she has to undergo a general screening “to consider criminal, emotional, health, addiction, motivation and other critical personality traits”, be checked for academic fitness, and have his or her character attested to by a senior official.

“The operatives must also be compulsorily trained on tactical operation, intelligence, citizenship and leadership, human rights, constitution, basic legal exposure, counter-terrorism, as well as explosives.

“In addition to the basic courses, there will be local and international refresher courses at least every 12 months, capacity building seminars as often as possible, passing prescribed course examinations to be critical to subsistence in the unit.”

It further suggested that allowances for the members of the section should be captured in the budget of the Nigeria Police. It stressed the need for the reorganisation or outright overhaul of the FSARS to be methodical “hence the recommendation that the status quo shall be maintained until screening, training and postings are concluded, before the official disbanding of SARS”.

PWAN finally recommended that the police be made financially independent through direct and sufficient budgetary allocations.

“The legislature must ensure that the Nigeria Police budgetary system is devolved not merely on paper in the budget proposals but practically, as the Zonal, State commands and divisional police formations cannot function optimally in securing their communities until they are given financial autonomy that must be transparent and accountable,” it said.

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“Leaving the management of Police funds majorly at the apex will continue to diminish the desired efficacy and professionalism expected of an institution such as the Nigeria Police Force.

“The effectiveness of the AHCS upon establishment to deliver on its mandate largely depends on the manner it is run; this goes to all other Police establishments. There is dire need for financial autonomy which paves way for sufficient funding. This can only be actualised through practical devolution
of powers, not only in the section, but across the various arms of the Nigeria Police Force.”

'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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