The order by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohamed Adamu that the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other tactical must stop their operations forthwith is not only exciting, but enlivening. The directive came after several accusations that the special robbery squads set by the police to fight and criminalities had been involved in illegal arrests, detention and torture and assassinations over the years.
According to Adamu, they should stop their usual stop-and-search operations and mounting of road blocks including traffic checks, adding that all policemen and women must always appear in their uniforms or approved tactical gear. A statement issued by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, explained that the “IGP’s directive come on backdrop of findings by the leadership of the force that a few personnel of the of the tactical squad hide these guises to perpetrate all forms of illegalizes”.
This is certainly a good development in the service considering the atrocities this department has perpetrated against the Nigerian public I recent times. From Lagos to Sokoto, from Borno to Rivers States it has been of a tale of woes and spate of outright and unwarranted arrest and most times extrajudicial killings unleashed on Nigerians by the squad.
How can one justify the fact that a decent appearance of a young man makes him a crime suspect a “Yahoo Yahoo boy”? In fact, the latest of their atrocities is killing of young man at Ughelli, Delta State. Information available to this magazine said that SARS operatives stormed the hotel where the victim was staying and asked him to surrender his phone for scrutiny.
On his refusal to hand over his phone to them they shot him dead. One wonders how the operatives of a public institution in the 21st century should maul down a man because he refused to hand over his telephone to them. Why didn’t they arrest him or in a worst case scenario shot him on the legs? This, indeed, is callous and a killing too many. Nevertheless, it sparked off an outrage in the town as people nearly lynched the trigger happy police officer.
On this note, the Deputy President, Senator representing Delta Central, Ovie Omo-Agege condemned the atrocities and activities of the Special Anti-Robbery and swiftly expressed concern over the incessant cases of extrajudicial killings, harassment, illegal arrest and extortion of defenceless citizens of this country by some officials attached to SARS in different parts of Nigeria.
He therefore called on the Inspector General of Police to fish out the killers of victim and punish them copiously without delay. Certainly, the police service and other agencies that bear arms in this country must understand that human life is sacred and sacrosanct and should not be tolled with. A loss of human life is a loss to humanity and in fact a loss forever.
Those who bear arms that are purchased with the tax payer’s money must stop pulling their trigger at the lowest provocation. They should adopt better strategies, foster a better relationship between them and the public they are asked to protect. According Omo-Agege, “It would be a depressing twist of fate for them to be listed among those contributing to the list of the dead in this challenging period globally”. Pin pointedly, Omo-Agege is on the spot because Nigerians’ lives matter.
Gladly, in his swiftly implementation of the IGP’s directives, Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu, vowed to arrest, dismiss and prosecute any erring police officers and men who disobey the directives in Lagos State. Reports have it that Odumosu called his men to his office where he re-echoed the IGP’s directives to them.
He was quoted to have told his monitoring teams to go after, arrest and prosecute any personnel of police tactical squads, including Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad(FSARS), SARS, Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Anti Kidnapping, Anti Cultism, or Anti Robbery teams or under any nomenclature from Lagos command or any formations within Lagos State, who engages in “Stop and Search” and any other low-risk operations like patrol; and operating on mufti, against the directives of the Inspector-General of Police.
Odumosu further ordered the Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers in Lagos State to stop the use of commercial buses or unbranded vehicles for such operations, except on surveillance or decoy, which must be approved personally by him.
Such moves are encouraging given the fact that Nigerians have been harassed, tortured, extorted and killed by security agents particularly the police since the outbreak of the COVID-19 than the virus had done to them. The public should call the police authorities wherever their fundamental human rights are being infringed upon or abused.
The police chief, IGP, should ensure that the order goes beyond mere rhetoric by setting up of a special surveillance/monitoring team to monitor officers and men of the service who go contrary to the directive for personal reasons. Nigerians have witnessed in the past some situations where orders were given and the reverse became the case. If he’s playing to the gallery by issuing the directive, history will record him as the IGP whose tenure witnessed largest number of bloodshed through police bullets.
By Uche Nwosu.Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000; He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.