Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s President, has approved the establishment of state and local government police. This comes with his approval of the dismissal of 37 police officers as recommended by the National Human Rights Commission Presidential Special Panel on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad reforms.

President Buhari directed that the submission of report of the presidential panel on the reform of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), of the Nigeria Police, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that the implementation of the right recommendations be carried out within three months.

He said: “I want to thank the panel once more, and hereby direct that since the recommendations of the commission that constituted the panel are enforceable as decisions of the court, that the Inspector General of Police and the Solicitor General of the Federation/Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice meet the commission to work out the modalities for the implementation of the report within three months from today.”

The Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission and Chairman Presidential Panel on SARS Reform, Anthony Ojukwu, listed the panel recommendations to include: “Significant improvement in the funding, kitting and facilities of the Nigeria Police Force; Strengthening Information and Communication Technology of the Force; Establishment of State and local government police; and institutionalising a Special Investigation Panel to annually hear and determine complaints on alleged human rights violations against operations of the Nigeria Police Force.

Others are “strengthening the Police Rapid Response Complaints Unit of the Nigeria Police and other internal complaints mechanisms of the force to make them more responsive; renaming the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to Anti-Robbery Section (ARS) which was its original name and to make the section operate under the intelligence arm of the police from the divisional, area command, state command, zonal command up to the force headquarters level. This will also remove the stigma presently associated with the name SARS, and ensuring the ARS limits itself to tackling armed robbery while other intelligence and operational units are strengthened to perform their various special tasks.