Governors of the 36 states of the country have told the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to put his planned creation of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit, as replacement for the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), on hold.
The state chief executives, who met on Wednesday, took a briefing from the IGP on the nationwide protest against the activities of SARS, but said the timing for creating another unit to replace SARS in inauspicious giving the mood of the nation.
They also demanded that former SARS members who participated in in the abuse of human rights of Nigerians be brought to book and the victims of SARS brutality adequately compensated.
The IGP had told the governors that SWAT officers would be trained, and about 50 of them posted to each state command and Abuja, to engage “only on intelligence-driven operations.
“They will not take part in routine operations but will operate specifically on intelligence after which they will return to their commands.” But the state chief executives in a communiqué by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi, said this might be “misinterpreted as a surreptitious move to dress FSARS in another garb.”
The Ekiti State governor said the governors agreed that there was need for greater consultation with the public before any decision is taken.
“Governors advised the IGP to immediately convene a meeting of all stakeholders and agree on a format of engagement with all state officials in order to address concerns,” he stated.
According to him, governors emphasised that the proposed reforms of the police should “include the training and retraining of operatives on the rules of engagement with the general public”.
Fayemi disclosed that each state was mandated to set up a panel for compensation to all victims of SARS brutality and see to it that the necessary compensation is made to those who deserve them.
“This must be systematically done to ensure that nobody who deserves to be compensated, is left out,” the governor added.
He called on the IGP, the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Nigeria Police Council (NPC) to immediately review the remuneration and emoluments of police officers and “explore ways to fund this in order to incentivise and motivate police officers who have pledged themselves in service of the country.”
Fayemi said the governors agreed that the concerns of the public went beyond a need for Police/FSARS reforms but a demand for better governance.
By Onyekachi Eze,