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Protest: Governors urge IGP to suspend SWAT


By Maureen Ikpeama


 Nigerian governors  have  asked the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu,to suspend his newly introduced police unit,  the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT), the new outfit unveiled  this week as a replacement for the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS).


The governors urged the IGP to consult further before going ahead with the new plan.


Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF),  Kayode Fayemi , said that the decision was reached at a teleconference meeting with the IGP, on Wednesday.


The communique read in part: “The IGP informed the Forum that after a psychological and medical evaluation, SWAT Officers will be trained and posted to all State Commands – about 50 per state, where they will operate only on intelligence-driven operation.


“They will not take part in routine operations but will operate specifically on intelligence after which they will return to their commands.


“The IGP assured Governors that he will leverage the provisions of the new Police Act 2020 to carry out extensive reforms within the Police and he pledged for the support, understanding and guidance of Governors to embark on the new reforms.


“In response, the Forum acknowledged the concerns of many Nigerians especially youths that have been affected by the excesses of some officials of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and the Nigeria Police;


“This notwithstanding, Forum members noted the efforts of officials of FSARS in their states, as they have greatly assisted in containing the increasing spate of kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle rustling, and other high-end crimes particularly in the Northern States, where containing these criminal activities would have otherwise been very challenging.


“Members, therefore, expressed concern about the sweeping decision to scrap FSARS even while acknowledging the need to address its excesses.


“After deliberation and extensive discussions, members resolved as follows:

“Governors were unanimous in their support for the IGP and endorsed his plan to carry out far-reaching reforms geared towards greater effectiveness, accountability, and transparency; members called for increased regularity in the meetings of the Nigeria Police Council in order for it to effectively carry out its regulatory and supervisory roles as contained in the Nigerian Constitution.


“On the IGP’s plans on SWAT, the Governors stated that even though the effort might be necessary and in good faith, they argued that the timing is inauspicious as the mood of the nation negates it and may understandably be misinterpreted as a surreptitious move to dress FSARS in another garb.”


The governors also noted that the protests went beyond asking for an end to SARS to include an improvement in governance across board.


The governors charged the police to fish out members of the disbanded police unit involved in acts of gross human rights violations and ensure that they answered for their crimes.

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