…IGP to protesters: Let aggrieved step forward with petitions against officers

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA-HUNDREDS of Nigerians drawn from different parts of the country, Monday, held a rally in support of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Nigeria Police Force.

Grassroot Developement Initiative Members led by Rivers State PDP Spokeperson, Mr Samuel Nwanosike at the Police Command Headquaters in Rivers State to Protest against the Police Special Anti-robbery Squad [SARS] Monday in Port Harcourt. Photo: Nwankpa Chijioke

The rally, which came amidst ongoing social media crusade urging the police authorities to immediately scrap the anti-robbery unit, following some alleged wrongdoings by some officers of the unit, was aimed at prevailing on the Nigeria Police not to yield to the demand.

It was organized by a coalition of civil society organization under the aegis of Concerned Men and Women Association of Nigeria with membership drawn from the Police Community Relations Committee, The Emminent Persons Forum and market men and women among others.

The rally which had over 1000 participants in attendance, started at about 10:am at the popular Eagle Square, with a procession after which the participants were led by their leaders to the Force Headquarters to meet with the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, with a view to tabling their mission statement.

With placards bearing inscriptions such as “allow SARS be”, “reorganization and reform of SARS is the only solution”, Nigerians, let us support the reform of SARS” among others, the protesters said they were in support of the operation of the police anti-robbery unit, saying scrapping the unit will boost the morale of armed robbers in their trade.

Speaking after leaders of the various groups addressed the gathering, National Coordinator of the Concerned Men and Women of Nigeria, Hajia Hadiza Ishaku, said the organization deemed it fit to stage the solidarity in support of the anti-robbery unit of the Nigeria Police so that people all over the world can know that those calling for its scrapping were a few individuals.

While handing over a letter of support to the police boss through his representative, Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of operations, Habila Joshak, Ishaku noted that policing was a complex job the world over.

“The recent campaign in the social media calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-robbery Squad, SARS, a unit of the Nigeria Police Force is not in the best interest of Nigerians most especially for the Armed robbery and kidnap victims and their families.

“We call on all Nigerians to support the reform of SARS as announced by the Inspector General of Police to make it better under the Federal SARS arrangement and Anda Commissioner of Police already appointed by the IGP to head SARS to be allowed to work to make F-SARS more effective and efficient.

“This is because, while we agree that some people have had sour encounter with personnel of the unit, we should cooperate and allow the investigations as directed by the IGP that the Police X-Squad should investigate all allegations of human rights violation against SARS in the past, “he said.

While insisting that policing the nation was complicated, Ishaku said the reason was” because every action the police take at any point in time attracts different interpretations by different people.”

He added:”SARS is a special unit of the Nigeria Police Force which was specifically created to combat armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes.

“Many people and their relations have, at one time or the other, been rescued from either kidnappers, or deadly armed robbers by the officers of the SARS unit and all of us must appreciate this.

“SARS has over the years, performed excellently well as it has assisted in arresting some notorious criminals in different parts of the country and allow market men and women to continue to do their businesses and other activities very well nationwide.

“Just as there is no perfect human institution or person that is why reforming SARS is the best way to go.

“We therefore call on the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to continue his good work and reform the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS and not to listen to those people calling for the scrapping of SARS.

“Some of them with their families, we know live outside this country and if SARS is scrapped and armed robbers take over, they will not be affected. ”

Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of operations, Habila Joshak, who spoke on behalf of the police boss, asked all those with various complaints against some officers of SARS to step forward with their complaints, saying Police was ready to immediately act on their complaints.

He said:”I want to appreciate this efforts you made today to educate and to encourage security agencies not just the police but all other stakeholders in the internal security platform.

“I’m also happy today that you are not saying the community and the public are wrong in reassessing SARS that is a question now but that you are telling the Inspector General of Police that you want to support the reorganization of SARS due to complaints of abuse of rights, abuse of the process and going beyond the procedure and the rules and regulations of the conduct of internal security.

“I want to inform you that the Inspector General of Police has already given directive that SARS must be reorganized to meet the expectations of the community.

“We are living in a global world where anything can be heard anywhere.

“I want to assure you that we will carry everybody along.

“I want to inform you that the SARS will take the shape of a commissioner of Police. We will supervise them closely to make sure that they comply with the standard operation procedure of the SARS.

“I want to invite everyone of them, that anyone whose right has been abused, whatever it is, come out, whether it is in Lagos, whether it is in Rivers, whether it is in Abuja, whether it is in Anambra, whether it is in Imo,East, South, North and West, we want such individuals to come up and make complaints and we will pursue.

“We also want human rights organizations and those that protect rights and privileges of individuals, to also follow up and see the outcome of these complaints.”

Recall that there have been some social media campaigns in recent time calling on the police authorities to immediately scrap its Special Anti-Robbery Squad following alleged wrongdoings.

Following this development, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had last week, ordered that the unit be immediately re-organised across the country.

He also directed an instant investigation into all the allegations, complaints and infractions levelled against the personnel of the Special Anti Robbery Squad across the country by the IGP X-Squad of the Force.

Idris said he was concerned with public interest and the need to reposition the Special Anti-Robbery Squad for more efficiency and effective service delivery to all Nigerians and ensure that it operates based on International Core Value of Policing with integrity and make sure the rule of law prevails in the operations and activities of the outfit.

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Source: Vanguard News

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Pro-SARS rally paralyses Abuja
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