While some Nigerians have taken higher, the protest against the brutality of SARS using the #ENDSARS hashtag on social media and taking to the streets, some group have taken to the streets to support SARS.
SARS is an acronym for Special Anti-Robbery Squad, an arm of the Nigerian Police set up to fight armed robbery and other serious crimes in the country.
Many men of the SARS do not care about law and order
Many Nigerians are accusing the men of SARS of fighting and harassing innocent citizens in the streets instead of going after kidnappers in forests. And there have been videos and pictures going round, proving this. While armed robbery has reduced, kidnap cases are still disturbingly surging.
There have been many cases of harassment and brutal killing of unarmed innocent people, by the SARS men. The Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, reacted to the situation.
He recently limited the activities of the SARS officers. For example, they are banned from conducting “stop-and-search” on the road. They are also banned from demanding to access citizens’ smartphones or laptops, at will. But the ban is not new and the SARS men are still allegedly violating the rights of the people, hence the protests have continued.
SARS officials say they search people’s phones and laptops to fish out Internet Fraudsters or scammers. While scamming people is a crime, it is not in the job description of the SARS. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) track and prosecute those who commit financial crimes.
Pro-SARS Nigerians protest against #EndSARS protesters
Some Pro-SARS Nigerians have claimed that only criminals are afraid of SARS. They have also taken to the streets to express their view about the risk of banning SARS in the society. They have staged protests in some parts of Lagos to support the activities of SARS–a counter protest against #ENDSARS campaigners.
While the whole thing may look dramatic, the clear cases confirming the brutal killings perpetrated by SARS against unarmed civilians cannot be justified. An example is the case of Stella Ifeoma. The 1999 Nigerian Constitution makes it clear that a suspect is assumed innocent until convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Suspected criminals should be arrested and prosecuted as enshrined in the constitution. If the suspected criminals are armed and eventually got killed in a shoot-out with the security agents, that would be another case. But random stop-and-search in places where there is no State of Emergency order, remain unprofessional and highly condemnable.
What is expected of the Inspector General of Police
The Nigeria Police is not in support of the excesses of men of the SARS and other police units. This may not have been followed up or proven in actions, but the Inspector General of Police has condemned the ugly acts in a statement.
But the Police reform is not something expected on press releases. Nigerians want results. Actions. For example, SARS men who killed innocent persons do not get sentenced or verifiably prosecuted. The Police shield them–making the citizens lose confidence in the commission. Nigerians want the law enforced on everyone and that must be done if law and order must be followed.
Written by Timothy Onyebuchi and Sani John.