#1MillionBoys are a reminder that we must reform SARS

#1MillionBoys

Gone were the days when all Lagosians had to deal with were the occasional burglar, driven by desperation to steal from houses. In this new post COVID19 Lagos, armed robbery has become an organized crime, with protocols, advance warning and mobilized mobs who terrorize citizens. The #1MillionBoys is the principal group terrorizing Lagos during the lock down, taking advantage of the fact that we are all sitting ducks and cannot defend ourselves or engage the police to protect us.

As with all Nigerian militancy and crime syndicates, the #1MillionBoys group began as a advocacy group in Ajegunle before they were infiltrated by criminals and co-opted into crime. The group has operated since the early 2002, gaining proper notoriety in 2012, when under former governor Babatunde Fashola’s highly successful anti-robbery campaign, 132 members of the gang were arrested through tip-offs and orchestrated raids in Apapa and Ajegunle. Since then, the gang’s influence has risen and waned in response to the severity of the government’s response to crime in the state. 

With other obligations, the state security forces in Lagos and Ogun state seem overwhelmed and have outsourced the task of protecting towns and local governments targeted by the gang to vigilante groups assembled by residents of those communities. A number of communities have successfully fended off attacks, even going as far as allegedly killing three gang members according to reports in Bariga.

 

This then begs the question. What exactly is the role of the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad (FSARS) that was established specifically to deal with crime syndicates like the #1MillionBoys? How do they still have the freedom to operate in major Lagos towns without any pushback from law enforcement, any headway in investigations, not a shred of reassurance that citizens can trust that the government through its law enforcement is working.

When will the government take our complaints about the ineffectiveness of the FSARS seriously and provide real solutions to our problems.

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