Shutting down the Special Anti-Robbery Squad as a department of the Nigeria Police Force would worsen Nigeria’s multi-faceted security challenges, a security expert warned on Sunday.
But Mike Ejiofor, a former director at the State Security Service, SSS, acknowledged widespread infractions by SARS operatives, as well as an immediate need to address the situation.
“There are areas that need reform, but we cannot ban the entire department because of that,” Mr. Ejiofor told PREMIUM TIMES Sunday afternoon.
The analyst said SARS was created to address armed robbery and other serious crimes years ago, but those objectives have not been fully met as yet.
But Deji Adeyanju, one of the coordinators of the campaign to scrap SARS, said the current image of SARS cannot be redeemed.
“The SSS is respected by Nigerians because you can’t find its personnel robbing people at the ATM and killing with impunity,” Mr. Adeyanju said. “It is not to say they’re not sometimes reckless or get used by politicians but you could at least see a semblance of professionalism in their conduct.”
“But the terrible and traumatic reputation of SARS is one that a reform cannot correct. The department should be scrapped and another one be created with a new name and new persons who are well trained,” he added. “The security situation cannot be worse than it currently is even with the so-called gallantry of SARS.”
Allegations of extra-judicial killings, torture, wanton arrests for bribes and other menacing conducts flooded social media since Saturday, with citizens taking their rage to the Internet and demanding action.
The coordinators of #EndSARS, a hashtag many Nigerians have adopted to amplify the issue, told PREMIUM TIMES their aim is to compel the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari to scrap SARS.
The Force Headquarters has acknowledged the arguments of the campainers in a statement Sunday, with a promise to look into their complaints.