Amidst decisions taken by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, recently in the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians have continued to applaud the order to overhaul the “Special Anti-Robbery Squad.” For many, it is not only adjudged a welcome development, it is timely too.
SARS, the acronym for Special Anti-Robbery Squad, is a spin-off of the Nigerian Police Force. It is one of the timely interventionary measures Nigeria raises to correct anomalies in its system so as to put the nation on the right path.
The challenges to the security of lives and property faced by Nigerians in recent time, is a major reason behind the introduction of this squad. It was, therefore, designed and expected to address the security of Nigerians and their properties.
Thus the mere introduction of this outfit for this special purpose, in no mean measure, relieved Nigerians of their fears as they looked forward to a more secure society for their lives and property.
Unfortunately, the actions that most of the men of SARS carry out, seem by far, a deviation from their key job responsibility. Their attitude towards a people whose interest they are expected to protect, has kept the people in tears and increased their dread for them.
People are now at a crossroad as to the clear idea of the duties of the men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Are they friends or foes has remained a question begging for an answer.
In the 80s, we were greeted with the slogan “police is your friend”. Then, police officers, through intuitive intelligence, detected criminals on merely sighting them. The audible heart beats and jittery posture of suspects, spake volumes of their involvement in criminal activities, which helped the police in apprehending them.
On the contrary, the 21st Century Nigerian Police seems to be operating from a different perspective. Apart from making indiscriminate arrest for no reason, there are allegations that they break into peoples’ homes at odd times all in the name of arresting their victims. Worst still, every of their victim is considered guilty right from the point of arrest and treated as such.
Unpleasant encounters of innocent citizens with the police, the “Special Anti-Robbery Squad” to be precise, have increased peoples’ dread for them. This is probably why a writer alleged that they are usually under the influence of alcohol and marijuana”, otherwise how could anyone explain this constant violation of peoples’ rights with ease?
Today, the activities of the men of the SARS are not only embarrassing, they constitute nightmares to Nigerians, whose feelings if I could guess right would suggest an outright scrapping of the outfit. To say that these men are creating nuisance of the Nigerian Police Force, is even an understatement.
Luckily, the action taken by the Vice-President to overhaul the squad, is a step in the right direction, coming on the heels of complaints and reports bordering on allegations of human rights violations by men of the squad.
On the order of the Vice-President, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, is expected to, with immediate effect, overhaul the management and activities of SARS to ensure that all operatives in the emerging unit conduct their operations in strict adherence to the rule of law and with due regard to international human rights law and the constitutionally guaranteed rights of suspects. They are also expected to bear proper identification anytime they are on duty.
For me, the Vice-President has not only reminded the Inspector-General of Police of the need to check the activities of his men, the content of his order, could be seen as a recap of the squad’s terms of reference on inception.
The writer, therefore, suggests that the process of overhauling should include a hunt for men who are intelligence-driven as they alone would have the know-how to champion this course for effective delivery. This is imperative because only men with a neutral conscience as such that can be restricted to the prevention, detection of armed robbery and kidnapping as well be apprehension of offenders linked to the stated offences and nothing more.