By Adetunji AyoBrown
Has the SARS become oppressor of the people it should protect? Violence and force are two things mainly exhibited and offered freely by the men of Nigeria Police Force Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and these they applied with such brutality that many innocent Nigerians are still recounting their tales of woe in the hands of these supposed elite force.
They are paid to arrest but readily torture for free, is how to described the SARS men who many opined are with either dead conscience and dignity or merely vicious. Many of them, most often go haywire because of money and carrying out unimaginable tasks completely out of their detailed and professional conducts.
Tears didn’t have any colour so that we can see; so therefore intelligence and force which should never contradict wisdom. Extrajudicial killing is murder even when SARS men did it, because security agents swore oaths to protect and serve the people. Too beautiful for ugliness to be their memories, families and friends of victims are mean, unrelenting, while calling and clamouring for the total ban of the squad.
Brutality is an aberration not adoration, public opinion matters great deal, without it everything falls apart. There abound many detailed stories on how people are subjected to various forms of dehumanising torture and ill treatment in the hands of these law enforcement agents in a bid to extract confessions from perceived criminals but they often extort money from them in the process.
Till now, the Federal Government is yet to show genuine commitment to ending the lawlessness of SARS. Till date there has been four different bans of the SARS’ unlawful activities in four years amid growing anger over harassment and abuse by officers. Interestingly, the Nigeria Police Force has announced yet another ban on routine patrols by SARS and other tactical squads of the police.
What we have had are lame attempts to rein this unit of the Nigeria Police notorious for unwarranted torture and other ill-treatment of Nigerians.
The FG had repeatedly failed to tackle impunity displayed by some notorious SARS policemen and, or officers whose brutality and corruption have become increasingly brazen despite repeated pledges to reform the police squad and investigate violations committed by these agents.
Not deserve to die that way, these victims are robbed off of the most precious thing in their lives. Many encounters with the high-handedness of these men on stop and search surveillance, mounting road blocks and even in their detentions will make you know better.
Though, government also has announced an investigation into infractions by the police unit, such abuses will only be prevented when SARS men and officers are held to account for their actions and face disciplinary actions or punishment if they are found to be responsible for human rights violations.
In order make recommendations for reform, in August 2018 FG set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the activities of SARS. However, two years after the panel submitted its findings to the government the reports are yet to be made public.
It is an open secret that they are often rubbing elbows with criminals and gangsters and these has made many citizens to see every men of the Nigeria Police Force as being corrupt, always ready to take kickbacks, bribes, or ‘egunje’ in whatever name it is called.
There are many citizens left with bitter experiences, while past investigations into violations were never made public, carried out or they are marred by irregularities.
Perhaps the current collective outrages over atrocities by SARS will provide another good opportunity for government to end police brutality and all form of human rights violations by the security force once and for all.
Security job is the most difficult; a place is as good as the people you know in it. Many Nigerians take with levity hands the issue of the nation’s insecurity, as if their knowledge of personal safety is from cartoon.
There is nothing supernatural about our security outfits because nature cannot transient itself with just any unexplained phenomena but with our collection of events in search of a theory, intelligence gathering is key.
To spot a murderer is easy. Our individual and collective security is our respective business like our daily food itself.
We should note that to spot a murderer is easy. Let say you arrest three guys for same offence and put all in a cell overnight. The theory is whoever finds it easy to sleeps is the criminal, after all, if found guilty, he already knows he is his going down. It is obvious that our individual and collective security is our respective business just like our daily meal.
Let us all listen attentively and prepare to run defensively; no morality, no dissonant, until the race is won. The greatest string the insecurity had ever pulled is to let us believe all is well. With Nigeria’s security deficit disorder, sacrificing some may be worth it in saving millions of lives, my opinion is that security is a do or die business. The squad might have gone out of control without realising it, but SARS is not beyond redemption, it is easy only if we try.
Although, the police speak of innocent’s murder as if it is nothing, but many hearts are still crying out in revenge. Let us not make dirty with revenge and death, SARS may seem an unimpressive tactic, but when there are super difficult decisions to make it is only super minded group you ask to act. But it is rather funny that many find it difficult to talk to policemen but are ever ready to kiss a gangster.
Before Nigeria is seen as the dumbest country in the world, let go the criminal for now, for that is far better than punishing many innocents. After all the law says it is better to let go criminals than punish innocent souls.
Their bravery should neither be underrated nor underestimated. SARS may be limited in ability but they are unlimited in persistence. FG must seize this moment to demonstrate the country’s commitment to protection of human rights and fulfill its obligation of holding the police to account.
Oversight function is very important, the Police Service Commission, Committee Against Torture and the National Human Rights Commission should investigate and initiate prosecution of police officers, who are involved in and found guilty of violation of human rights.
*Ayobrown, Senior System Analyst, National Pilot Newspaper, writes via firstname.lastname@example.org
By Adetunji AyoBrown