The Nigeria Police Force and some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are making frantic efforts to convince Nigerians about the need to retain the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
There had been nationwide protest against SARS with residents recounting ugly encounters with operatives of the special squad and calling on outright disbandment of the unit on social media.
But Force PRO, DCP Frank Mba, argued yesterday that since some SARS operatives are involved in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency and banditry in the Northeast, it would be difficult to scrap the special squad.
Also, CSOs under the auspices of the Citizens Action For Good Governance said the scrapping of the unit will amount to giving criminal gangs a free hand to unleash terror on innocent Nigerians.
They suggested instead that the police High Command should ensure regular medical checks for SARS operatives.
Mba who appeared on a Channels TV programme on Friday faulted the call to ban the squad, insisting that some of the protesters that want SARS banned are beneficiaries of crime.
He said, “If the #EndSARS hashtag is seen as a symbolic call for the reform of SARS, I would say clearly that the leadership of the NPF is in line and ready to work with those making that call.
“However, if the hashtag should be seen as a call for the total disbandment of SARS, I would tell you very clearly that it will be difficult for any responsible organisation to work that path, taking into cognisance the amount of investment in training that government has made in setting up that department and the very critical roles it is playing.
“As a matter of fact, we have received
a lot of calls from people particularly in states like Maiduguri, Yobe, and some other parts of the north where SARS operatives are deeply embedded in the fight against banditry, insurgency.
“And these people have made it very clear that ending SARS is not even an option for them because of the critical roles SARS operatives are playing in those areas, heavily on bandits, terrorists and other kinds of criminals.”
The Force spokesman also noted that while some are genuinely concerned about the excesses of the police unit, another group that wants it scrapped is made up of beneficiaries of crime who would benefit more in its absence.
“There are people who are beneficiaries of criminal enterprise,” he added.
Fresh cases of police brutality renewed protests calling for an end to the special unit which is allegedly notorious for its excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and, in some cases, extrajudicial killings.
In Lagos where the protests began and now in its second day, residents flooded major roads with placards, insisting “enough is enough”, and maintaining that it is time to scrap the squad and in Abuja.
The protest entered day two where protesters were teargased.
But against the mounting calls for the scrapping of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS), the Citizens Action For Good Governance, a nongovernmental organization, yesterday called on the Inspector General Of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu to ignore calls for the shutdown and end of the security unit.
The coalition insisted that the scrapping of the unit will amount to giving criminal gangs a free hand to unleash terror on innocent Nigerians just as it suggested that the police high command should ensure regular medical checks for SARS operatives “to identify those with mental issues, psychological challenges, drug addiction, and others, in order to prevent unnecessary provocations, intimidations and oppression”.
Addressing a journalists in Abuja, national coordinator of the group, Nazir Galadanchi, also cautioned against playing into the hands of Fifth Columnists who he said had been seeking a way of weakening national security, even though he conceded that the uncouth behaviour of some members of the security unit against Nigerian youths has fuelled the current outcry for the disbandment of the unit.
“Thereisnoneedtobeinahurryto end SARS because of few bad eggs who have given the unit a bad name and put it in a bad light before the world”, he said.
Galadanchi continued: “We have taken special note of the public outcry against SARS and observed with all sense of responsibility that there should be a productive reformation of not only SARS operations but the entire operations of all units of the Nigeria Police Force.
“We urge Nigerians to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as the reformation of SARS is the required recipe for taming crimes and enhance security of lives and property.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the necessity to abate the preponderance of armed robberies on highways, towns and communities led to the formation of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which is a unit under the Nigeria Police Force.
“Those agitating for the outright scrapping of the Unit are definitely oblivious of the consequences of their agitations on the fight against armed robbery and other heinous crimes bedeviling the society at large. The Country is presently facing serious security challenges.
“We urge well-meaning Nigerians to be pragmatic and rise up to join the advocacy for the reformation of SARS to achieve optimal productivity and not get carried away by the phantasmagoria of deceits by sinister forces under the guise of #EndSARS.
“We acknowledge the excesses of the overzealous operatives of SARS and it’s our fervent hope that those bad elements will be flushed out of the Police Force by the Inspector General of Police and made to face the law for abuse and brutality against many innocent Nigerians who were victims of circumstances.
“In corollary, we charge law- abiding Nigerians to be wary of the antics of subterranean forces with determination to create upheavals in the polity through the end of SARS agitations. Ending SARS means giving license to Armed Robbers to unleash terror”.
Lagos Condemns Police Brutality, As #EndSARS Protesters Occupy Govt House
Lagos State government yesterday condemned police brutality in the country as youths protesting alleged brutality by operatives of Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) – an operational outfit in the Police Force occupied the entrance of the government House located in Alausa, Ikeja area of the state to express their grievances. Addressing the youths on Friday, the state deputy governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat said the demonstrators’ outrage and grievances were in order and within their rights as citizens, but advised them to eschew violence and not to be unruly as their concerns would be pushed to the police authorities for action.
He urged the protesters to leave the roads, saying the state government would not condone brutality and violation of citizens’ rights by security operatives.
He pointed out that the position of the state on the matter had already been communicated to the appropriate quarters by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The deputy governor said the state government would continue to engage the police leadership and the federal government to address the issues raised by the citizens and bring about the needed change in the police operations.
He said, “The tenet of the police operation is to protect the citizens. Security operatives don’t have the right to trample on the rights of law- abiding citizens, because of their unfamiliar looks, or because they are carrying laptops or iPhones. It is wrong for any police officer to expressly accuse or pronounce someone, irrespective of age, because they have dreads or ride luxury
Lagos Assembly Calls For Proscription of F-SARS
The Lagos State House of Assembly also demanded the proscription of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery (SARS) and the introduction of a new and well- structured security outfit in its place.
The House also called on the commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, to provide protection for the protesters, while they express their grievances.
The call was made at an emergency sitting presided over by the Speaker of the House, Hon Mudashiru Obasa, on the current call across the nation for an end to the alleged widely reported inhuman activities of FSARS.
Obasa and some lawmakers had addressed some residents of Lagos who protested to the House of Assembly on Thursday demanding for an end to F-SARS with some of them alleging that innocent people had become the major victims of the body.
Among the seven-point resolution passed after an extensive deliberation was that the Senate and the House of Representatives should carry out a probe of the allegations against F-SARS including killing, maiming and dehumanising Nigerians.
#EndSARS Protest Rocks Osun
Apparently dissatisfied with alleged brutality and extortion by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), aggrieved youths in Osun State yesterday took to the streets across the state to protest.
The placards-carrying protesters
sought the dissolution of the SARS unit of the Nigeria Police insisting that the squad has become terror, especially to youths across the country.
The protesters stormed the Ereja Square and broadcast stations in Ilesa, the Ile Oodua and broadcast stations in Ile-Ife, the popular Olaiya junction, government Secretariat in Osogbo, the state capital.
The youths carrying placards inscribed with #EndSARS, ‘Nigeria police stop killing us’, ‘say no to brutality , ‘stop killing Nigerian Youths’, youth are not too young to rule’, among others thronged the streets of the towns.
The demonstrators, majority among who were young men on motor bikes, succeeded in grounding popular areas in the town for a while in their areas of demonstration.
But the operatives of the Anti- Robbery Response Squad stationed at Olaiya junction in Osogbo allegedly shot sporadically in the air to disperse the protesting youths and prevent the protest from turning violent.
Speaking with journalists in Osogbo, one of the protesters, who spoke on condition of anonymity called on the Inspector General of Police , Adamu Muhammad, to as a matter of urgency, proscribe the operatives of the SARS, saying they would continue to stage the protest to press home their demand.
Bring Errant Officers To Book,
PMB Orders IGP
And in apparent response to the nationwide protest, President Muhammadu Buhari last night ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to ensure erranr police officers in the country are brought to justice.
The president who met with the police chief over the #EndSars protest rocking the nation noted in his personal Twitter handle that he directed the IGP to address the concerns of Nigerians regarding these excesses, and ensure erring personnel are made to face the law.
Buhari also assured that his administration will reform the police. He tweeted: “I met again with the IGP tonight. Our determination to reform the police should never be in doubt. I am being briefed regularly on the reform efforts ongoing to end police brutality and unethical conduct, and ensure that the Police
are fully accountable to the people.
“The IG already has my firm instructions to conclusively address the concerns of Nigerians regarding these excesses, & ensure erring personnel are brought to justice. I appeal for patience & calm, even as Nigerians freely exercise their right to peacefully make their views
“The vast majority of men and
women of the Nigeria Police Force are patriotic and committed to protecting the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians, and we will continue to support them to do their job.