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Monday, 18 December 2017

Security experts to FG: retain SARS, flush out bad eggs


By Paul UKPABIO and Innocent DURU

The Federal Government should retain the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force, if the country does not want to experience worse security challenge to grapple with, security experts have advised. The experts who spoke with The Nation said the SARS plays a vital role in combating criminal activities in the country and should be given the necessary support it deserves to perform better.Rather than scrapping the security unit, the experts advised that a thorough reorganization of the body should be carried out to flush out the bad eggs disparaging their efforts.

The campaign for the disbandment of the SARS stemmed from allegations of harassment, and brutality against innocent citizens by the security outfit. The campaign trended on the social media for a long time with the proponents using #EndSARS to garner support. Shortly after the campaign went viral, antagonists of the campaign emerged and used #Let SARS be and we say no to #EndSARS campaign to counter the anti SARS campaign.

The online argument for and against the campaign became more fierce during the week with the opposing groups staging massive rallies in different parts of the country.

Speaking on the development, retired Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, said that the SARS plays a critical role in curtailing insecurity in the country and should not be scrapped.His words: “SARS is very essential in tackling criminality in the society. We would have a huge problem in our hand if they are scrapped. 

But I must say that some of them have been abusing the respect the society owes them. They arrest people, detain and torture them without taking them to court. They take a lot of bribe from people.  Some of them have become tools in the hands of politicians. Some of them don’t wear uniform. They dress like militia and at times, you mistake them for armed robbers. I want to suggest that they should be placed under the commissioners of police in each state for proper supervision.”

His view was also shared by another security expert and consultant, Hon Dipo Okeyomi who said that SARS plays an invaluable role in reducing criminality in the country.“We cannot scrap SARS. To do that will amount to turning the country to a jungle where there is no sanity. The SARS does not only fight armed robbery, they tackle kidnapping and cultism. Imagine what the country would be like if those guys are not there to do this onerous task. We must commend them and help them to perform better.

“ I do agree that some of them have become tools for settling scores for politicians and money bags. They have bad eggs just the way we have it in every other field of life. But cutting off the head is not the solution to migraine headache. We should think of reforming the body instead of scrapping it. Genuine efforts should be made to flush out the bad eggs so that the SARS can redeem its image and once again endear itself to the hearts of Nigerians.”

The campaign to scrap SARS in the opinion of the Chief Executive Officer of August Eye LTD, Ambassador Okhidievbie Oamien is misdirected.He said: “SARS was formed in the height of armed robbery and other violent criminal activities in the society. Usually, we tend to mix emotions with professional postulations on security with biased views that are influenced by political, ethnic and religious connotations.

“I have at different fora pointed out that review is different from stop.  It is time to review SARS and not to stop it. The numerous cases of study of human rights violations and public execution has not been properly investigated and reported by the media and the police authorities. The public hue and cry must be tailored to respect the sacrifices being made by these men in risking their lives to sanitize the deadly disaster caused by these hardened criminals.“There has never been a time where these groups come out to campaign for a fallen policeman shot by robbers in active service for the government to help his children on scholarships. Yes, I am a retired military man. But I tell you that the police have done so much to mitigate crime in our society.”

He added: “I will encourage the government to proffer policies and updated rules of engagement to ensure compliance with human rights and public empathy during Operations. The government must also, as a matter of utmost priority, put their motivations into cognizance to boost their morale on the job. They should provide benefits   like risk allowances and life insurance policies. I will conclude by saying once again that all SARS officers must be made to go through monthly drug testing and substance abuse screening to verify their status.”

Also speaking, a frontline security expert, Group Captain Sani Adamu (Rtd) disagreed with the campaign to scrap SARS. “I don't agree. However, I am of the opinion that SARS should be modified and allowed to stay. SARS has performed. They have managed to reduce crime rate to a reasonable extent. Scrapping it cannot solve the problem rather, it will embolden criminals,” he said.  

In a separate telephone interview with our correspondent, a security chief, Rtd Captain Ali Mohammed, said: “SARS is just a created segment of the NPF. It is only if the entire police force is scrapped completely that the thinking of robbers taking over the country will suffice. The SARS is a selection of individuals from the force mostly those that received mobile police training. 

There's no special training given to them but selection of individuals that are gallant and have no fear to engage criminals like robbers.

“Other sections like ATS and anti-bomb squad, received a specialized training. SARS rely only on the general training received most those from the MPF. So any other person within the force can fit in. But when you are talking of their rating generally it is commendable but their excesses are much. My take on this is for the top echelon of the Police to make careful selection of individuals to form the unit or give them another name with an acronym to suit.


Culled from: The Nation

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