SARS And The Nigerian Society. [Good & Bad]

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I am a young Nigerian youth working hard to make ends meat against all odds of economic and social hardship.
I have gotten to the point where I can no longer keep quiet over fears of what might happen to me if I speak up.

The constant rise in the level of intimidation, harassment, emotional, psychological and physical assault, brutality and even extra judicial murder being carried out by those who have been constitutionally endowed to safe guard and protect us; the Nigerian Police.

Every person(youths especially) who seem to have a level of success is a criminal to them.
The most guilty of this is the division of the Nigerian police called The Special Anti-Robbery Squad a.k.a SARS.

Whether you’re trekking, on a bike, in a cab or driving, you’re not safe! Not even celebrities and we’ll known personalities are exempted from their menace. They have now become a growing scourge in the society. Some even refer to them as legal armed robbers and many even dread them more than the real armed robbers.

They(SARS) always act and feel they are above the law. They act with so much impunity and there has been so many recorded cases of extra judicial murders with hard evidence against them.

You don’t need to be a criminal for you to be harassed and arrested. Once they arrest you, they frame you up on trumped up charges and if you resist or question them, they use brute force or will even shoot to kill and nothing will happen. All they need to do is tag you an armed robber or cultists. You dare not use an expensive phone (iPhone especially), look good or drive a good car. You become an instant soft target for them.

They raid popular recreational centers and joints, and even bank ATM dispensing points. Looking for victims to exploit, harass, brutalized and extort from. Numerous cases of kidnap and extortion has been made against them over the past few years.
As long as they feel you have money, you become a soft target for them.

It has gotten so bad that you cannot differentiate them from armed robbers. Dressing so casually and dangerously brandishing their Ak47 riffles. Some go about in private cars looking for people to victimize.
SARS officers also act as bodyguards to some persons, delving into land matters, family matters and debt collection that were considered civil cases.

There have been numerous campaigns to put an end to SARS but the government and police authorities have turned deaf ears to them. This clearly shows how insensitive the government is to the plight of its people.

The disregard for public opinion by the government and police authorities clearly shows that some persons in power are benefitting from the corrupt and illegal activities of SARS.
How can a police division be considered bigger than the entire Nigerian police?
The only thing said by the police authorities is that they are going to reform SARS.

When you hear the word “Reform” in Nigeria it actually means “make una learn to live with it”.Reformation is just a word used to avoid the underlying issues at hand. It’s as good as flattering to deceive.

What steps are being taken so far by the government and police authorities to reform SARS? So far, very little has been done to curb the excesses of SARS despite numerous public outcry for the division to be scrapped. Even the Senate and House of Representatives of the national assembly has spoken out against SARS to no avail. No concrete or decisive steps taken so far to curb their excesses.

When the government and police authorities decide to promote and defend an adhoc unit of Law enforcement that has roundly been criticised by Law abiding citizens it becomes clear whose interest they are serving. Reformation never works when it comes to the police, even the word “force” was officially removed from their name, yet they still carry it along. The Nigerian police is a Law enforcement agency that doesn’t respect the law they swore to uphold and defend.

The sad truth is that SARS will not be scrapped simply because it’s an illegal cash cow for the Nigerian Police authorities and some highly placed persons in power. They will try to protect it at all cost maybe to the detriment of the voice of the citizens because it serves their selfish interests.

SARS is just a unit/division within the Nigerian Police, for those trying to defend SARS by saying crime will be on the increase once they are scrapped, I’ll like to know the job description of the Nigerian Police again? What about the mobile police unit? Does that mean that SARS does the job of the entire police?

Well, in my opinion for SARS to be well reformed, the following measures must be put in place;

1. They must have a special uniform bearing their ID number which should be verifiable. Seeing men with AK47rifles at dangerous junctions at night wearing black shirts and jeans or dressed casually, one cannot easily differentiate between them and armed robbers. Some dress so casually wearing native attires and some bathroom slippers.
They should be given special uniforms.

2. Their roles must be clearly defined. They are called “Special Anti-Robbery Squad”. Take note of the words “Anti-Robbery”. They should only be concerned about armed robbery and other crimes relating to the use of weapons.
Involvement in domestic and civil matters should be prohibited. Also unlawful intimidation, arrests and violation of civil rights should be prohibited.
The job of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is also to go after internet fraud stars. SARS has no business with that.

3. A special training school should be established for SARS officers and proper background checks should be carried out on personnels. A training school where civil rights are taught as well as social etiquette.

4. The Nigerian Police needs a unified help line number, not multiple numbers.

5. SARS officers should be given special vehicles or special vehicles should be made available for them that will have verifiable serial numbers. The use of private or unmarked cars should be prohibited.

6. Routine mental and psychological tests and evaluation should be carried out on SARS officers.

7. Routine narcotics tests should be carried out on SARS officers.

8. A special task force, panel of inquiry or division should be set up to monitor and check the activities of SARS with the help of the public.

9. The recruitment exercise into SARS should be thorough, with good background checks and evaluation. Illiterates and semi Illiterates should not be admitted into SARS or the Nigerian police.

A government truly committed to the service of the people and the nation will listen to it’s people. So far, majority of Nigerians are tired of SARS, as there has been numerous public outcry.

Worthy of note is that the SARS issue is beginning to have a regional coloration which is capable of disturbing the peace, unity and tranquility of the nation. As people of the southern part of the country have been the major victims of this SARS issue.

I know the government and police authorities are aware of the excesses of SARS, but why they’ve chosen to be livid about it, beats my imagination.

This SARS menace is really discrediting and painting the Inspector General of Police(IGP) as been weak, incompetent and incapable of heading and redeeming the battered image of the police. Even though he’s doing his best to improve the Nigerian police.

This SARS issue if not properly handled might be detrimental to the government especially as election time is approaching.

If the above listed points cannot be fully implemented, then SARS should be scrapped!

God Bless Nigeria.
God Bless Nigerians.
May God help the Nigerian police!

From a concerned and patriotic Nigerian. 

-Courage. O.


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