Police currently too broke to make SARS replacement, SWAT, fully operational

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The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, says the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit of the Force is not yet operational, one year after its creation, due to budgetary constraints.

SWAT was created last October to replace the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which was dissolved following historic nationwide protests against the unit’s widespread involvement in the brutality of citizens.

The new unit was created to fill the vacuum created by the erasure of SARS which was tasked with tackling violent crimes especially armed robbery and kidnapping, but little has been seen of the unit since last year.

Baba said during a media briefing on Thursday, October 28, 2021 that the unit needs a lot of resources that cannot currently be provided by authorities.

“SWAT requires specialised uniforms, arms, offices, kits, and other things. We’re working on it,” he told reporters at the Presidential Villa.

The police boss further said that the gap meant to be filled by SWAT is currently being filled temporarily by other tactical units of the Force including the IGP Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Special Tactical Squad (STS), and Rapid Response Squad (RRS).

Nearly 2,000 officers were recruited into SWAT and immediately commenced basic training last October, but there have been questions raised about their deployment as they’ve not been seen in public.

Last month, the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, expressed frustration with being constantly asked about SWAT’s visibility.

The minister said operatives have already been posted to their various places of work nationwide and are already doing commendable work.

He said, “I think it’s because they’ve not performed any infractions, that’s why people are not aware they’re around. I believe the armed robbers are aware they’re around.”

Last year’s training of SWAT recruits was organised in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other development partners.

Officers of the dissolved SARS unit were barred from joining the new tactical unit.

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