A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana says the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is made up of members of the armed forces who have undergone training to kill.
- Falana said the SARS operatives accused of extra-judicial killings, intimidation and brutality are trained soldiers.
- He said this in an interview on TVC, speaking on whether SARS should be scrapped or not.
- “SARS was actually created by the defunct military junta. It is made up of members of the mobile police unit and the armed forces,” Falana said.
- “In other words, armed troops have been legally engaged since 1991 in the maintenance of law and order in our country. From my investigations, the killings are essentially carried out by those who have been trained to kill.”
- According to Falana, soldiers must be taken out of SARS and the training of police officers must be revamped, else things will not change.
- Falana said SARS alone should not be criticised, saying their actions are replicated by the police across the country.
- “But you cannot single out the SARS from the general extortion by policemen and women, police stations in the country. For instance, it’s not just the armed SARS that is involved in these criminal actions. When armed robbery suspects are arrested, they are forced through unprecedented torture to make incriminating statements.”
- “The next stage is to parade them before the media. You don’t parade a big man but you parade the poor. In those press conferences, media men and women are allowed to subject them to cross-examination which shouldn’t be because we have court judgements, not less than five, which say that parade of suspects is illegal.”
- Falana further said the reason why the violations of human rights persist in the country is largely due to the indifference of Nigerians.
- “Nigerians generally are used to moving on, Our rights are violated are we just move on,” he said.
What we think: Unless citing that former Police Chief, Mike Okiro did not mention recruiting from the armed forces, Falana’s comment corroborates what Okiro said about having trained men as Operatives of SARS.
However, we want to point out that having trained men is not the issue, or being trained does not naturally lead to extra-judicial killings. In fact, you should not have untrained men designated to fight armed robbers.
The real issue is orientation. These ‘trained men’ were probably not given proper orientation on how to go about their jobs. Therefore, they most likely feel anyone that ‘looks like a thief’ should necessarily be taken as one.
We can’t even over-emphasise that these Operatives, more often than not, try all in their power to make sure that the supposed thieves or armed robbers are roped in and falsely accused, so, they extort them.