Written by Edrina EMMANUEL, Elizabeth OFFIONG

Reform SARS or … - Abuja residents

Lately, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, unit of the Nigeria Police has come under severe public scrutiny following allegations of unprofessional conduct and anti-people activities by its personnel. For some time, the #endSARS hashtag has trended on the social media with many Nigerians openly expressing their ordeal in the hands of the SARS officials and calling for the outright scrapping of the unit. However, Elizabeth EFFIONG encountered some Abuja residents who opted for the reform of SARS rather than its scrapping. Excerpts:

 

RAYMOND OKON:

Scraping SARS is not the issue. SARS has its own usefulness. But Nigerians have a way of abusing power when it is given to them.  Most SARS officials use their positions to oppress young citizens rather than protecting them and focusing on the real criminals.

When a civilian tries to exercise his rights that he feels have been violated by SARS officials, they use force, threats and violence to silence him.  However, in my opinion, SARS should not be scrapped, but should be called to order and their duties strictly defined.

 

OLA ABDULRAZAQ: Anywhere SARS is mentioned, what comes to mind is extortion, brutality, disrespect, unprofessionalism, dishonesty, and inhumanity. All these and many more negative attributes describe the personality of many of the so called underworld men who parade themselves as officials of the SARS, and have unfortunately crawled into the noble Police Profession.

I have had experiences with them as a car dealer. I’m not entirely sure if scrapping the unit will end this menace but what I do believe will help is total reform of SARS. The warning about its complete scrapping lies in the allegations that some officials of this same unit are directly or indirectly involved in robbery. So where does that leave us when this unit is scrapped? Your guess is just as good as mine.

These officers need to be educated and trained on how to relate with members of the public and made to account for their behaviours through impartial discipline of errant officers. There should be a mandatory ‘daily’ drug test before any officer is sent on an official assignment as it is no news that most of them work under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.

This reform will have to take on a holistic approach in checking the operations of the officials from the highest hierarchy to the lowest. This is a very strategic solution in even fighting corruption in this present administration.

 

MARILYN ETIM:

In the past few weeks, there have been several cases of SARS brutality on young Nigerians across the nation. It is unfortunate that the SARS officials whose duty is to fish out armed robbers in the country use the powers given them to oppress, intimidate and even kill innocent young Nigerians or collect their hard-earned money for no credible reason.

I support the “scrap SARS” movement and I urge the Federal Government to listen to the cry of her young citizens and take proper actions against this unit of Police that has become a menace to the society. 

 

TIMI KHALIL:

I had a terrible experience with SARS which scared my cousin who was visiting Nigeria for the first time. SARS officials stopped our vehicle, pointing a gun at us because my cousin had a hoodie on.

SARS has a record of bringing criminals to book, but they also harm innocent citizens in the process. Most of these SARS officials extort money from innocent persons; they have become a daylight terror to young Nigerians.

Some of them operate without wearing their uniform and they could be mistaken for robbers or kidnappers. The fire arm provided to them by government to protect the citizens has become an instrument of oppression.

SARS should not be scrapped but rather reformed. The Nigeria police force should evaluate their performance, know the right persons that are fit mentally, physically, emotionally and psychologically. They need to re-evaluate as well as re-orientate the SARS officials on their duties. Enough of the terrorizing of young Nigerians by SARS!

 

YETUNDE MAYOWA:

I hear different stories about SARS harassment every day, yet little has been done to address this issue.

These people are given the license to shoot armed robbers, but they have abused this by chasing after harmless youngsters. If you have dreadlocks, or a tattoo on your body, you will be labelled a criminal by SARS officials.

The FG has to take this scrap SARS movement seriously, lest it results to mass protest against SARS by young citizens. They have destroyed the lives of so many innocent people without remorse. Enough is enough!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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