By Omeiza Ajayi & Ndahi Marama
Just like the Extreme Acute Respiratory Syndrome SARS – a contagious and typically deadly respiratory sickness attributable to a coronavirus (in the present day we have now the deadlier SARS-COV2)- Nigeria’s now disbanded rogue police unit, the Particular Anti-Theft Squad SARS was a lethal virus which grew right into a Frankenstein Monster, typically leaving in its path, a story of tears and blood.
For SARS -both the virus and the operatives- it was a story of torture and bloodletting in areas the place they’d grow to be a ‘pandemic’.
When armed robbers graduated into bandits and kidnappers, fairly than go after them, SARS discovered it extra handy to go after ‘Yahoo Boys’ and different ‘flashy’ Nigerian youths within the guise of preventing cyber crimes – an space largely throughout the remit of the Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee EFCC.
SARS had grow to be a metaphor for every part that was improper with Nigeria and so it was not stunning that the agitation to disband the unit and take a look at the officers quickly turned virtually a nationwide concern.
For essentially the most half, it will seem that there have been two totally different Customary Working Procedures SOP for SARS – one for the North and the opposite for the South.
Whereas it was complaints galore within the South in regards to the actions of the unit, it was a pat on the again for his or her operations in some components of the North the place some states have continued to hail their exploits within the face of assaults by lethal insurgents.
Okechukwu Nwanguma, Govt Director, Rule of Legislation And Accountability Advocacy Centre RULAAC had lately documented quite a few atrocities of SARS beneath successive Inspectors Basic of Police who gave the impression to be helpless in addressing them till the current mass protests elicited the uncommon decisive actions which led to the disbandment of the unit.
Whereas he described the SARS workplace in Awkuzu, AnambraState as outstandingly infamous and occupying the zenith within the corridor of infamy, that of the Lagos state Police Command was described as a “human abattoir”.
On one event in early 2015, a 46-year-old man was arrested and detained in SARS, Ikeja, Lagos, after he was accused of theft.
“The IPO insisted that the one strategy to launch the person from custody was for him to sleep with the spouse of the suspect and her 17-year-old daughter, who have been coming for his bail. The women resisted for some time however after two months and more and more trying like their bread winner was going to die in custody, they buckled and gave in to the demand of the SARS officer. To chop the story brief, the SARS officer raped the spouse and daughter of the person in his custody and shortly after nonetheless executed the suspect”, Nwanguma had narrated.
However, for SARS, it’s totally different strokes for various of us. Whereas there’s virtually an unanimity of opinions on the atrocities of the defunct unit, Borno State, and maybe many s others within the North have expressed their preferences for retaining the unit.
As an example, Borno, a state which has suffered devastating assaults from Boko Haram Terrorists, didn’t waste time in figuring out with SARS and condemning the disbandment of the unit.
First to sentence the disbandment of SARS have been some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) within the state, the State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum and the Borno State Home of Meeting (BOSHA) which equally introduced an award to the SARs Commander within the State.
Since then, the state has not witnessed any #EndSARSprotest. In actual fact, on thirteenth October 2020, a whole bunch of pro-SARS protesters launched into a peaceable march in Maiduguri, urging authorities to reverse its resolution regardless of the enjoyment expressed by many Nigerians down south over the disbandment. Plateau State Governor, talking on behalf of northern governors was additionally to commend the work of SARS within the north. And actually, there have been few circumstances of SARS brutality within the north.
The protesters who stormed the Authorities Home, Maiduguri comprised largely of youths, some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and commerce unions.
Chairman of a coalition of CSOs in Borno, Ahmed Shehu, stated although they weren’t pleased with happenings in different components of the nation, “the SARS operatives have contributed immensely to the struggle towards terrorism.” The protesters who carried placards and banners stated “We wish SARS for peace to reign in Borno.”
Addressing the protesters, Gov. Zulum who was represented by his Deputy, Umar Usman Kadafurenjoined them to not take the legal guidelines into their fingers, as he would convey their grievances and requests to applicable authorities.
On that very same day, Gov. Zulum particularly known as on the federal authorities, particularly the Inspector Basic of Police IGP, Mohammed Adamu to kindly redeploy the disbanded members of the Particular Anti-Theft Squad SARS to Borno State to enhance the efforts of the navy within the struggle towards Boko Haram.
Zulum made the decision when he acquired the Minister of Inside, Ogbeni Rauf Argebesola who led a delegation to the state together with his counterparts from the Police Affairs and Defence ministries.
“We’re not in help of brutality by any safety outfit, however to be honest, right here in Borno State the efforts of SARS operatives within the counter insurgency operations needn’t be overemphasized”, Zulum said.
On its half, the Borno State Home of Meeting BOSHA on Thursday fifteenth October introduced an award to a former Commander of the defunct unit within the state, CSP Ibrahim Mohammed for displaying gallantry within the struggle towards Boko Haram, banditry, kidnapping and different crimes within the state.
Presenting the award at plenary, the Deputy Speaker, Abdullahi Askira who presided over the ceremony stated the honour turned essential in view of the great contributions CSP Mohammed and his crew had made in direction of preventing insurgency within the state.
The Deputy speaker stated, it has by no means been within the historical past of the meeting to current an award to any safety personnel, however the present of bravery and selfless service by CSP Mohammed warranted his invitation to the hallowed chambers to recieve the award within the presence of lawmakers, mates and associates.
“Throughout his time as Commander, CSP Mohammed carried out splendidly effectively which led to the dislodgement of unspecified variety of Boko Haram terrorists with seizure of arms and ammunitions, and freed many hostages in Borno”, the Home said in his quotation.
The encomiums showered on the SARS commander in Borno just isn’t misplaced. In life and in each 12, there’s often one Judas. Nevertheless, in each 12 SARS, it will seem that there have been 11 Judases, with solely folks like Mohammed standing out. Whereas it’s trite legislation that there’s presumption of innocence throughout trials, the outrage towards the defunct SARS operatives factors to a presumption of guilt, a sign of the extent of harm the operatives had achieved to many Nigerians. The time to place them on trial is now!