Dakuku Peterside

• Anti-SARS protests held across Lagos
Eromosele Abiodun and Chiemelie Ezeobi

The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, yesterday accused Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, of being a beneficiary of crime in the state for his alleged involvement in the campaign to end the impunity of operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police.

Peterside, who made the swipe at Nyelsom Wike, on the sideline of the two-day conference of the G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea (GoG) Group held in Lagos, said those behind the #EndSARS campaign were beneficiaries of crime.
This is just as protest to either end or sustain SARS operations were held in different part of Lagos yesterday.

For the Pro-SARS protesters, they converged at the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos to protest against the call to end SARS.
While their protest was going on, another set of human rights groups also converged at the Gani Fawehinmi park, Ojota, calling for total ban of SARS.

While alleging that Wike was wasting state resources on the social campaign against the FSARS, he said it was because the unit refused his purported machinations.
According to the NIMASA boss, Nigerians should support the SARS and not condemn it, giving the strides the unit had recorded in combating violent crimes despite limited resources.

He however added that instead of clamouring for its end, the unit should be reformed just like the police and other agencies of government to enable them perform optimally.
He said: “The campaign against the SARS is being championed by Governor Nyelsom Wike of Rivers State and probably the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). They have been shouting that SARS be scrapped.

“We all know that without the police in a society, we cannot maintain law and order. In order to enforce its mandate, which is the enforcement of law and order, the police create units and the SARS was created as a response to  violent crimes such as armed robbery and kidnapping.
“Unfortunately, these vices are worse in Rivers State. Consistently for the past 18 months, Rivers State has occupied number one position in high profile crimes. There have been recent cases of assassination and armed robbery.

“The SARS in Rivers State has been very potent in tackling such crimes, but because the government seeks to control the unit and it has refused and insisted that it was an institution of the federal government, working for the general good of the people, they are not happy.

“But if we keep quiet as a people, this issue would assume a life of its own and we would have a society that is brutish and one where there’s a wind of crime.
“I think we should put things in proper perspective and that is Nigerians supporting the police. We support the SARS. We support that the police be reformed to perform optimally like other institutions of government.

“Rather than condemn them, we should advocate that government give them the tools to do their work.
“The government of Rivers State has isolated the SARS for attack because they are used to working in unholy alliance with some of these institutions.
“This particular unit has refused to compromise and so, they have initiated a campaign of calumny against them. But the ordinary people of Rivers State appreciate the sacrifices of SARS.
“They have helped controlled high violent crimes in Rivers State. For the state to spend all her resoruces to campaign against a unit of an agency, something must be wrong.”