Some security experts say the anti-robbery squad was a reflection of the rot in the police, and therefore called on the federal government to totally overhaul the force for better performance.
The experts, who spoke following Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s Aug. 14 directive for the immediate overhaul of SARS, commended Osinbajo for the decision, but stressed, however, that such reform was belated.
As part of the overhaul of the unit, SARS has been ordered not to attend to civil or commercial matters again, but attend strictly to Armed Robbery and Kidnapping cases.
One of the experts who spoke with National Daily, Okechukwu Nwanguma, who is the National Coordinator of Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), said SARS reflects the culture of violence, lawlessness and leadership ineptitude in the Nigeria Police.
“To address the problem of SARS, we need to first of all address the leadership appointment procedure, how a person becomes the I-G; the process must ensure that only the best brains are made I-G.
“The person so appointed should have the security of tenure, have operational autonomy and his loyalty should not just be to the president or ruling party, but to the constitution and the people of Nigeria,” he advised.
Nwanguma also urged the National Human Rights commission (NHRC) to investigate human rights abuses by SARS through documented cases.
Mr. Jude Igbanoi, a lawyer and security expert, described SARS as a child of necessity in Nigeria, stressing that it came into existence at a time that violent crimes became very challenging to the conventional police.
Igbanoi noted that the problem with SARS was a reflection of the society, calling also for the overall reformation of the force with a view to have better police operatives at all units of the force.
“SARS started well, but aberration came in when some unscrupulous elements found their way into the unit. Some of the operatives were involved in negative things like extra judicial killings, amongst other crimes. It became so clear that they have outlived their usefulness,” he said.
Igbanoi, however, said he was against total ban of SARS, rather it should be reformed, stressing that Nigeria needs such outfit in the force to tackle violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping, ritual killings, amongst others.
Mr. Folorunso Attah, another security expert said: “Osinbajo meant well even as it is coming rather too late. Though a lot of havoc had been done by SARS operatives over the years.
Attah expressed the hope that the reformation would not be a new wine in an old bottle.