Nigerians want SARS scrapped but the Nigeria Police has a totally different opinion.
From alleged harassments, shooting, extortions and killings, Nigerians from various parts of the country have joined the conversation against the inhumane treatment meted out to "defenseless" citizens.
While some Nigerians have called for the scrap of this unit of the Police, others have advocated for reforms that will reshape the unit for better service delivery.
Against this backdrop, some Nigerians across the country took to the streets on Monday, December 11, 2017, to protest these alleged human right abuses.
Addressing Nigerians at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, Segun Awosanya lamented the actions of SARS personnel across the country.
The called for the scrapping of the Police unit within twenty-one days.
“Nigerians have spent the last one week highlighting the travails have suffered in the hands of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS),” Awosanya.
“The stories that have been recounted on social media includes story of torture, lack of respect for the rule of law, extortion, extra-judicial murder and disappearance of hundreds of people.
“These actions are indicative that this unit have outlived its usefulness and now constitute a clear and present threat to the safety, welfare and wellbeing of Nigerians.
“We demand for an outright scrapping of the entire SARS unit across the country. Its members have become engrossed in crime, murder, brutality, extortion and disrespect for the rule of law in a manner that makes any attempt at reform a waste of time.
“We demand for the constitution of a panel by the Police Services Commission to reform the Nigerian Police in its entirety. The agenda must include provisions for better training of police officers; provision of better equipment and firearms; better welfare including housing, insurance, prompt payment of salaries and pensions etc; establishment of a code of conduct and strict compliance thereto as well as strong disciplinary measures for any officer who violates the code of conduct.
“We also demand for a public hearing at the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to enable Nigerians table their grievances before our elected representatives as well as the submission of memoranda on reforms of the Nigerian Police including recommendations on the amendment of laws to ensure a more efficient police force.
“We demand thorough investigations into complaints filed against SARS officers. We demand that such officers be identified and immediately brought to justice. In some cases, we will provide video and pictoral evidence against officers who have been seen to be involved in such acts of brutality and extortion.
“We give the authorities 21 days within which to meet these demands failing which we will be compelled to resort to other measures to embarrass them into taking action,” he added.
Similarly, the convener of Concerned Nigerians Movement, Deji Adeyanju said the Nigerian public have "lost confidence" in the Police.
“It's so bad to the point that SARS officers and some police officer escort people to ATM machines to give them bribe, we have now seen some videos on social media where some police officers now ask for bribe in dollars.
“The police must look inward and stop blaming people, police have blamed us to say that we are sympathizers of armed robbers being sponsored by some politicians. The generality of Nigerians does not have confidence in the police,” he decried.
At the Eagles Square, a group of Nigerians – mostly women – had gathered in support of SARS.
The deputy national chairman (North) of the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC), and leader of the Eminent Persons Forum, Sanusi Maijama’a Ajiya told Pulse that armed robbers would take over the country if SARS is scrapped.
His words: "IGP has assured that he will put SARS in the right position and take action on any officer found violating rights of citizens. IGP is a leader has taken the step to reform SARS.
"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 interest of Nigerians, most especially for the armed robbery and kidnap victims and their families.
"We call on all Nigerians to continue to support the reform of SARS as announced by the Inspector General of Police to make it better under the federal SARS arrangement and a Commissioner of Police already appointed by the IGP to head SARS to be allowed to work to make F-SARS more effective and efficient.
"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 business and other activities very well nationwide"
"If SARS is scrapped and armed robbers take over, they will not be affected. So all Nigerians are once again called upon to support reform of SARS,” he added.
At the Police Force Headquarters, the deputy inspector general of Police (Operations), Habila Joshak assured Nigerians that the SARS unit would be repositioned for a better service delivery.
DIG Joshak said the complaints of Nigerians against the unit are been investigated and SARS officers found wanting would be “taken out of the system”.
“I want to assure you that the IGP has already given directive that SARS must be reorganized to meet the expectation of the community,” Joshak said.
“I want to promise you that we will carry everybody along. The SARS will take the shape of a Commissioner of Police that will head the unit, and make a selection of those who have acquired courage. A lot of them have acquired courage, but if they have abused that courage, it will be addressed publicly.
“I want to invite anyone whose right has been abused to come out and report these officers. We also want also human rights organization, and some of you that have pointed out to us some of the wrongs that our men have done in the past to join us so that whatever outcomes of such complains will be put on the table for public view.
“This administration will be open and also cooperate with them to suggest to us how they want us to police them. We will address all complains about SARS, we will address from state to state, from division to the last station. We will bring individuals to account for their actions without fear or favour. We promise Nigerians that we will not abuse their rights.
“SARS have something to offer, but if they have gone contrary to their assignment, we are going to address that and we are going to ensure justice is done and justice prevails,” he emphasized.
Joshak said all complains on against SARS on social media were been collated by the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood.
He cautioned SARS officials against acts that would portray the unit as an anti-civil group.