Nigeria’s Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has opposed the calls to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
This, he said, was because there are good personnel in the police unit who could be denied the chance of performing better should the unit be scrapped.
He made this comment during plenary on Wednesday as lawmakers deliberated a motion on the recent extrajudicial killings carried out by the security personnel.
“I think that this is the situation that should be properly investigated. Those in involved in recent incident should be arrested and prosecuted. The law should take its due course. This is not acceptable. Nigerians need to know what happened by those who have killed Nigerians.
“There are good people and bad people in SARS. Scrapping of agencies when you have mistakes may not be the best position. Rule of law should be put in place.
“If you scrap SARS, you lose the chance of getting those doing well to continue to do well,” he said.
His statement comes amidst calls for the scrapping of the police unit. It also comes three days after the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, banned personnel of the squad and other tactical units from operating on Nigerian roads, in response to calls for the scrapping.
Earlier, Oluremi Tinubu, who sponsored the motion, described the injustices as a flagrant disregard of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which in addition to prescribing powers to these various agencies, provides for the right of every Nigeria.
Referring to Chapter Four of the Constitution , which provides for life to right, right to freedom of movement, among others, she said that Nigeria subscribes to the African charter of human and people’s right and the convention against torture.
“In spite of this, the culture of brutality of security operatives towards Nigerians have continued unabated.
“While the Nigerian army is doing good job in securing the territory against insurgents, allegations of human rights abuses by its officers cannot be overlooked.
“Nigerian youths can no longer move freely for fear that they will profiled and accused of being yahoo boys or fraudsters merely because they look good, own laptops, iPhones, nice looking cars or profiled as having dreads,” she said.
The lawmaker further expressed concern that with more Nigerian youth involved in software development, Fintech and doing more remote jobs in the ICT, profiling by policemen is the major problem.
“A militarised police will only make the people the enemy of the state.”
On his part, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, complained that personnel of the squad look no different from armed robbers.
“We are beginning to wonder because you can’t tell when you see a SARS and armed robbers, even the way they are dressed.
“We have the constitution which has guaranteed privacy to our citizens but this people have become more like extortionists looking for way to force people to part with money.”
The Senate, thereafter, mandated its committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate human right abuses by Nigerian security agencies.
It urged security agencies to establish hotlines to enable Nigerians to report abuses by their agents and a Special Bureau Unit that monitors the conduct of its officers, arrests and charges erring ones
The Senate also mandated its committees on Police Affairs and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate allegations of extra judicial executions and make recommendations for reparation.
It also mandated the committee on Police Affairs to organise a stakeholders meeting to investigate implementation of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act.