Scepticism has greeted the assurance of the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, that former operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and those expected to be deployed to the new Special Weapons and Tactics Team would be compelled to undergo psychological examinations and be professionals in their dealings.
The pronouncement that policemen attached to SARS units would be made to undergo psychological examination was one of the moves hurriedly presented to Nigerians by Adamu as the #EndSARS protests gathered momentum, roller-coasting into other states in Nigeria.
The #EndSARS protests, which started on October 7, 2020, are against police brutality, extortion, extrajudicial killings, harassment and other human rights violation issues meted out by the police against civilians.
The protesters, while calling for the disbandment of SARS, also demanded for the reformation of the police.
The protesters, however, said they didn’t believe the IGP was sincere in his promise to carry out the reformation of the police.
They questioned his hasty creation of SWAT, seeing it as another unit that would be peopled by former SARS operatives.
Ironically, it is not only the protesters that are expressing doubt over the moves of the IG to do his best.
Some SARS Operatives are also expressing doubt, asking how the government was going to cough up millions of naira needed for their retraining, medical examinations, transportation to Abuja and accommodations.
According to them, their scepticism stemmed from the continual abandonment of the Nigeria Police personnel in terms of funding.
For years, the policemen had literally run their units alone, sourcing money through illegal means and most times at the detriment of complainants, suspects and other Nigerians.
The SARS operatives disclosed that this week, they were all instructed to hand over their case files, suspects and court cases to the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department in different states.
They were also ordered to vacate their offices and be on standby.
Technically, right now, the men are now wandering about commands, doing absolutely nothing.
It was also gathered that aside from SARS operatives across the federation being disbanded, other units like anti-kidnapping across the 36 states were also asked to be on standby.
However, instruction has come from the Force Headquarters that they should begin preparation to head out to Abuja for debriefing and psychological tests.
Policemen, who will be drafted into the SWAT Team are also expected to go through the same test.
These policemen are close to 30,000 and the money involved in achieving what Adamu has tabled is enormous.
One of them said: “They said we should all report to Force Headquarters, Abuja for psychological tests.
“We were made to understand that the cost of the test, for each policeman is N25,000.
“We don’t know who is expected to foot the bill.
“All SARS personnel, Anti-kidnapping and Anti-Cultism units and the new SWAT are all expected to take this test.
“We’re expected to go to Abuja from different states of the federation, but no money has been made available and nobody is talking about where we will sleep.
“They take policemen to Abuja and just subject them to sufferings.”
Meanwhile, state governors on Thursday have asked Adamu to put his planned creation of a SWAT unit, as replacement for the disbanded SARS, on hold.
According to them, the timing for the creation of another unit to replace SARS was inauspicious, given the mood of the nation.
This knock from the governors came just two days after Adamu had sent a circular to all the Deputy Inspectors-General of Police, Assistant Inspectors-General of Police, Commissioners of Police and Police Commandants highlighting the establishment and composition of the SWAT Team.
According to the circular dated October 13, 2020, the SWAT Outfit will consist of a State Commander, Second in-Command and 36 other officers and men.
The breakdown is as follows: one Chief Superintendent of Police, who will head the unit; a Superintendent of Police, who will be his second-in-command; three Deputy Superintendents of Police, who will be section commanders; three Assistant Superintendent of Police, who will be second-in-command to section commanders; 24 Inspectors; and six drivers, who will be operatives.
The circular further stated: “No personnel of the team shall be engaged without being screened, specially trained and certified as a SWAT Officer. The basic training will be three weeks long and shall be conducted at the PMF Training College, Illa-Orogun, Osun State; PMF Training College, Ende Hills, Nasarawa State; and PTS Nonwa-Tai, Rivers State, commencing from October 18, 2020. The first batch of the training shall comprise 50 officers and men to be selected from the FCID, the 36 State Police Commands and the FCT. It is to be noted that the selected personnel will be screened and their suitability ascertained at the Training Institutions. State Commands that require additional SWAT Teams will have their personnel trained during the second and subsequent phases of the training.”
The DIG Force CID and Commissioners of Police in each of the 36 States of the federation and the FCT are to screen and select a total of 50 officers and men from each of their commands.
The DIG and Commissioners of Police are also to arrange and transport the 50 selected officers in their respective Commands to the training colleges.
All the policemen are expected to arrive and document on October 18, 2020 at their designated training facility.
Also, selected personnel are to come along with basic training kits, including canvass, white and black T-Shits, dark grey trousers, combat dresses and track suits.
It was further stated: “The ranks, names and ages of the nominated personnel should be forwarded to the Office of the IGP, DIG Training and Development, and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Peacekeeping Directorate, FHQ, Abuja, not later than October 16, 2020.”