#EndSARS: Campaign to shut down police unit gains momentum

THE NEWSGHOST, NIGERIA – Over the weekend, Nigerians cried out against growing brutality of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of Nigeria’s police.

Several Nigerians took to social media to retell their experiences with the police unit. They retold cases of extra-judicial killings, wanton arrests and dispossession of properties through physical assault and other intimidation tactics, report says.

The outcry against the brutal and criminal police unit led to the creation of the hashtag #EndSARS which has been trending on social media.

On Sunday, December 3, 2017, in reaction to the growing cries for an end to the menace, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris ordered the immediate reorganisation of the notorious police unit.

Today, December 5, 2017, as Senator Isa Misau (Bauchi-APC), lends his voice to the criticism of the police unit, the campaign gains momentum.

Senator Misau is pessimistic about the order given by IGP. He noted that previous attempts by the police to sanitise the unit has proven ineffective.

He strongly condemned the reaction of the police to the allegations against the special unit.

The senator said:

‘According to the Police Act and regulations, the force Criminal and Investigation and Intelligence, force CID, is the highest investigating arm of the Nigerian police. And for effective and efficient administration, the department is divided into 14 sections of which the Special Anti-robbery squad, SARS, is one of them. SARS is supposed to be a section in each state command criminal investigation department with sole responsibility of handling armed robbery cases and answerable to the state commissioner of Police.

Mr. President, I have in the last few months received several petitions from my constituency against SARS. The complaints vary from extra-judicial killings, brutality, torture, arrest for bribe and other menacing conduct by the men of the unit.

Most of the tweets with the hashtag, EndSARS, reported several cases of harassment, and arbitrary arrest of Nigerian youths labelling them Yahoo Boys.

Mr. President, the complaints have ranged from how officers waylaid citizens at ATM points to how they often threaten to kill avowing they will get away with it. There are specific cases of how SARS officers allegedly murder citizens for declining to pay bribes.

It is dangerous for us to have a unit of the Police Force act as if it is above the law. We must now take a major decision to end SARS until a unit built around the rule of law and human rights observance is created by the police.

I’m aware that in 2015, the then IGP, Solomon Arase, had due to incessant reports of abuses by the squad split SARS into two units with a view to checking its human rights abuses. This was done to ensure that officers don’t make arrest and investigate the same case. However, the abuses have continued.

The police high command had earlier said that it has no intention to scrap the squad and contrary to claims. Rather than to take note of complains by the general public, and proceed to investigate and take actions against these human rights’ abuses, they only make matters worse by calling these campaigners criminals.

I think it is clear that something wrong is going on and it needs urgent attention.’

Senate President Bukola Saraki agreed that the issue should be given urgent attention.

The Senate has referred the issue to the ad-hoc committee on security.

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