Acting President’s Directive On SARS 

THE Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, recently while in acting capacity directed the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris, to review the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, operations.

ACCORDING  to a statement signed by his spokesperson, Laolu Akande, the decision was sequel to series of complaints and reports on the activities of the SARS.

THE unit under the Nigeria Police has become notorious, brutal and a monster that needs to be tamed quickly. The anti-robbery squad of the police has continued to unleash terror on innocent Nigerians. They are nothing but thorns in the flesh of the people.

WE recall that, barely 24 hours to the traditional engagement of a bride-to-be, she was arrested by the operatives of SARS and tortured. Adding to this was the death of a 42-year-old woman said to have slumped  due to a scuffle with operatives of SARS in Lagos. Also, one Asiatu Adeyanju was  said to have slumped  and died after operatives arrested her son at the front of her house in Ilupeju area of Lagos State while about to operate a generating set.

A minor family disgreement between  Hassan Abdullahi and his cousin took them to a police station in Kano, where SARS operatives  changed the case to robbery and brutalised Hassan, leading to his death.

AGAIN, barely hours after the Lagos State Police  Command initiated investigation into the harassment and extortion of one Emmanuel  James by operatives  of SARS, another victim was feared dead in another incident in Lagos.

EMMANUEL James Ibe-Anyanwu was harassed and taken to a bank by SARS operatives to withdraw money for them else they would implicate him. It was mother luck and facebook messages he sent that saved him.

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ANOTHER incident involved a Nigerian Rapper, ill-bliss, who was harassed and had a gun pointed at his head for riding a big car. Adding to this was two Super Eagles players who were harassed while in the country for national assignment in March 2013.

THE organ was set up to tackle armed robbery in the country has turned its guns on innocent people, searched individuals on transit in broad daylight, forcefully extorted money from passengers and even collected their phones to transfer money to their accounts. SARS members even have the temerity to go with their abductors to their banks to collect ‘egunje’, else they will be implicated.

THIS is a squad operating  within the law inflicting brutality on Nigerians, who are often powerless to defend themselves.

THE Acting President’s directive to the Inspector General of Police ordering overhauled of SARS is in the right direction. It is high time we changed the mindset of the operatives of SARS in dealing with Nigerians.  Also, there should be fundamental restructuring  of the unit, while its frightening image in the mind of the populace should be changed.

SINCE some members of this unit have virtually turned themselves to armed robbers, we thus recommend the bad elements among the security outfit should be fished out and made to face the law or showed the way out of the police.

IN addition to this, all SARS operatives should be made to wear their uniform and conform with the rules of engagement as provided by the Police Act.

THE process whereby superiors asked operatives of SARS for ‘returns’ is doing more damage to the system than good and should thus be stopped henceforth.

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WE also call on government’s mobilization agencies to sensitize citizens on how to enforce their rights. They should not give in to the operatives of SARS to extort money from them when they have not committed any offence.

THE police hierarchy should decisively deal with any indicted SARS  operative .

WE finally recommend the teaching of the basic human rights principles as a compulsory course in the police academy. This is with a view to changing the perception of the SARS to those they are paid to protect.

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