By Nnamdi Mbawike, Enugu
The Association of South East Town Unions (ASETU) insisted that the recent creation of SWAT was like putting an old wine in new wineskin.
The association pointed out that it observed with great shock the manner in which the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, announced the purported dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force, and hurriedly replaced same with the Special Weapons And Tactical Team (SWAT).
In a statement issued by it’s National President, Emeka Diwe, ASETU maintained that ” it is bizarre, suspicious, ill thought out and grossly an incentive to the escalation of violent crimes in Nigeria.”
” In the first place, the agitations across Nigeria have not been about the dissolution and reintegration of men of SARS into other units and formations of the Nigeria Police.
“The agitations arose in condemnation of the reprehensible acts, human rights violations and indefensible atrocities of these men. What Nigerians despise is not the name “SARS”. What Nigerians want in essence is an end to police brutality and sundry other human right abuses; they want law enforcement agents who have been involved in these nefarious acts to be brought to book.
“By dissolving SARS and reintegrating them into the various other units of the police, the IGP has only created a whitewashed tomb. This is putting old wine in a new wineskin.
“He has forever hidden the criminal elements within the defunct SARS from the public, absolved the rogue policemen of culpability and has sought to clothe unrepentant sinners with apparels saints.
“What the IGP has done is similar to changing the dress of a thief just to shield him from public outcry for his arrest. This is unacceptable ” he stated.
Diwe said it was deeply worrisome that instead of first putting in motion an arrangement to investigate the allegations of abuses perpetrated by men of SARS, the IGP hurriedly announced that he had disbanded them.
“By this singular move, the IGP has concealed many years of atrocities by these men, and set them completely free.
“Again, the manner that the so-called disbandment of SARS has been done appears more like a political action instead of a comprehensive security measure. Nobody is in doubt that there is need for a unit of the police which should specialize in combating high-risk crimes like armed robbery. This is the tradition the world over. However, the action of the IGP in dissolving SARS without first raising and training a new dedicated unit to combat violent crimes has created a security lacuna of extremely dangerous proportions. What will be the fate of Nigerians between now and when the IGP will eventually come up with a new policing arrangement to address the issue of armed robbery?
“Our contention is that the scrapping of SARS, which has been done without first addressing the fundamental questions of abuse and brutality, seems engineered from above to give a soft landing to a notorious gang of untrained policemen who have serially killed, robbed and maimed Nigerians. It has not in any way spoken to the issue of better policing, and it has further compounded the trouble with the police in Nigeria.” He maintained