Up until on Sunday there were no shortage of news on nationwide protests against mind-boggling stories of extrajudicial killings and other forms of brutality which gave the Nigeria Police Force Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) a bad name as a monstrous organisation. No doubt the Police authorities set up SARS with the good intention of tackling armed robbery and kidnapping among other violent crimes plaguing the country.
Sadly, as time went by, members of the public dreaded the unit like perpetrators of armed robbery, kidnapping and other forms of criminality the squad was meant to contain due to excesses perpetuated by its operatives. Vexed by reports of professional misconduct including the application of brute force which often resulted in the maiming and death of suspects in the hands of SARS officials, Nigerians took to the streets across the nooks and crannies of the country to not only demand the dissolution of the unit but also seek justice for victims.
Interestingly, the public outcry under #EndSARSNow, finally paid off as the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, at a press conference announced the dissolution of the dreaded unit, prompting commendations from victim families, human rights activists as well as concerned eminent personalities in the country.
Although, many see the SARS dissolution as long overdue, it is, however, a plus for members of the public who sufficiently brought to the attention of Federal Government and Police authorities the alleged atrocities committed by the squad. The country’s police force arguably ranks as the most criticized government institution in Nigeria owing to acts of unprofessionalism, endemic corruption and ineptitude. It is worthy of note that the force has received international commendations over the performance of its personnel in international engagements including United Nations peace missions which pundits say is due to proper supervision and equipment to combat crime.
We take the view that security in the life of a nation should not be associated with the kind of gory tales that instigated the end SARS protest. However, we believe that the IGP dissolution of the unit is a bold step in the right direction. Equally, we call for the investigation of allegations levelled against all those that served in the unit.
Also, while the nation awaits a replacement for SARS, we strongly believe that proper training and supervision will in no small way make a successor unit avoid the pitfalls of SARS.