by Isime Esene
After days of social media outrage against the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the Force high command led by Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police finally made a pronouncement yesterday restructuring the squad and also announcing plans to organise training programs to further educate his men.
It is commendable that the number one police officer in the land saw it fit to engage in the conversation on doing something drastic about the unit, but the issue, however, is that it appears that the IG is administering the wrong medicine to the wrong ailment.
The clamour on social media, and out of it, is about collapsing the police unit, hence #EndSARS. It is, therefore, shocking that IG Ibrahim Idris somehow believes that restructuring the outfit will restore the confidence of citizens.
He is grossly mistaken.
In case he does not know, his men are unarguably the worst government unit in the country. The bulk of the men of the Nigerian Police Force are an uneducated bunch of bullies who see the arms in their possession as a means to oppress citizens and unleash their uncouth demeanor at will.
The citizens whom they are supposed to protect have surely lost confidence in their ability and moral standing to do so – that is if they had any at all.
Policemen in Nigeria are the exact opposite of what law enforcers should be. They steal, kill, and destroy and end up leaving sorrow, tears and blood in their wake wherever they go. You then cannot blame citizens who go about their lawful duties to retain any respect for such an agency.
The IG cannot claim ignorance that his men receive bribes at illegal checkpoints across the country, arrest people at will, and collect money for bail despite the fact that it is illegal. It is, however, disheartening to read a statement signed by the IG commending the SARS unit while trying to justify their continued retention.
“Undoubtedly, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have been doing very well in fighting violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnappings and cattle rustling in the country in the recent time and this has resulted in drastic reduction of incidents of the mentioned violent crimes nationwide,” he said.
Statements like this make a mockery of the seriousness of the issue at hand and disrespects the memory of the people who have died due to the lack of professionalism and sheer brutality of SARS operatives.
We demand that the IG releases data to back up his claims that SARS operatives have actually “been doing very well.” We demand to know the exact percentage of armed robbery decline across the country over the years, and how this can be attributed to the operation of the SARS unit.
It is time to stop uttering empty words and actually do the job that the IG and his men were employed to do which is to protect lives and property of every Nigerian. Unbridled harassment and crass corruption accompanied by shameless illegality need to go and they need to go now.
The Nigerian Police Force is a disgrace to any sane, forward-looking society. And for a federal government that ran on the back of change I think it is high time we indeed ended SARS. The statement released by the police high command does not address the issue in the least —in fact, it is a dollar short and a day late.
Dear Inspector General of Police, the people have spoken, we do not want SARS anymore. Please do the needful, enough is enough!