Former officers of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, have been barred from joining the newly-created Special Weapons and Tactics, SWAT, unit of the Nigeria Police Force.
Following nationwide protests against the alleged high-handedness, harassment and extra-judicial killing of the SARS, which had escalated in past few years, SARS was dissolved days ago in a pronouncement by the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu.
IGP Adamu, in a statement on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 said that SWAT will fill the gaps left by SARS, whose main role was tackling violent crimes especially armed robbery and kidnapping.
According to a memo, one of the criteria for the selection of SWAT officers stipulates that they must not have worked for SARS.
Other prerequisite for service in SWAT include: at least seven years policing service experience for intending members of the unit and must be passed physically fit to withstand training and operation.
They will also undergo medical and psychological fitness to certify them fit medically, emotionally, and psychologically.
The memo, signed by the IGP added, “All personnel will as a critical pre-requisite undergo and pass medical examination, psychometry and toxicological screening for drug abuse, which will be conducted by the Police Medical Services during training and those found to be unsuitable shall be discharged.”
Another criterium for selection is that prospective SWAT officers must not have pending disciplinary issues, or any serious previous record of professional misconduct, touching on intemperate behaviour, incivility to members of the public, corrupt practices, and misuse of firearms.
For operational service, recruited officers must be between the ages of 25 and 40 years, and 35 and 45 years for command elements.
The memo also states clearly that SWAT teams are to be strictly intelligence-led, and only to respond to robbery attacks, scenes of weapons-related crimes, and rescue operations.
They will also embark on special operations involving high-profile criminals that constitute threats to national security including anti-banditry, counterterrorism, and counter-insurgency operations that require special tactical response.
50 officers and men are to be selected from the FCID, and each 36 State Police Commands and the FCT for the first batch of training.
The basic training of SWAT officers will start on Sunday, October 18, and will run for three weeks in three camps across the country.
Adamu in Tuesday’s statement ordered officers of the defunct SARS to return to Force Headquarters in Abuja for debriefing, psychological, and medical examination.