Chieftains of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State are standing with the embattled police anti-robbery department.
The politicians told PREMIUM TIMES they demonstrated to seek public support for the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Port Harcourt, and neutralise the voices of those who want the squad shut down.
Tonye Princewill, a governorship aspirant and a big name in Rivers APC politics, was seen in a solidarity match for SARS Monday morning.
Chris Fineborn, APC spokesperson in the state, told PREMIUM TIMES that he and Mr. Princewill joined other pro-SARS protesters because the squad had done a lot to stabilise security in the state.
“We believe that there are bad eggs in SARS, just like you have bad eggs in politics, but that is not enough to throw them away,” Mr. Fineborn said.
Mr. Princewill did not respond to requests for comments Monday afternoon.
The department recently came under a relentless backlash amidst claims that many of its personnel exert a longstanding culture of gruesome rights abuses.
Since December 2, campaign has intensified for the Nigerian government to shut down SARS, a special unit launched in the ’80s to combat armed robbery.
Thousands have taken their years of brutal experience with SARS operatives since last week under the hash tag #EndSARS.
The allegations include extra-judicial killings, torture, wanton arrests for bribes and other menacing conducts.
The police have responded to the campaign with a promise to restructure SARS and probe all allegations of wrongdoings against its officers.
But campaigners against the squad insist that it must be scrapped and replaced by a more citizens-friendly department.
A coalition of civic groups commenced nationwide protests on Monday. The police were notified last week that the protests will hold today in Ibadan, Abuja, Warri, Lagos, Owerri, Port-Harcourt, amongst other major towns and cities.
As soon as the protests commenced, reports of counter-protests surfaced on social media.
Campaigners pushing to #EndSARS accused the police of conniving with the APC to polarise and politicise their cause.
But Mr. Fineborn rejected the allegations, saying APC chieftains only joined the pro-SARS rally because they do not want armed robbery and other serious crimes to rise unchecked in the country.