By Peter Uzoho
The Force Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Police Force, Mr. Frank Mba, a deputy commissioner of police (DCP), has said the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a special arm of the Force, cannot be scrapped because of the ongoing fight against crimes in the country.
He, however, said the Force is currently reforming the operations of SARS officers nationwide to curtail their excesses.
Mba, who spoke yesterday during an Instagram Live Chat with Nigerian artiste, Mr. Azeez Fashola, aka Naira Marley, encouraged Nigerians to take video recordings of SARS operatives who abuse their fundamental human rights “as long as it is safe to do so.”
Marley had made a U-turn on his decision to organise a peaceful protest against police brutality in the country.
The singer had stated yesterday via his verified Twitter account that he cancelled the planned protest because “a lot of changes are being made right now.”
“We won’t be protesting anymore because there are a lot of changes being made right now. As a Marlian, we will give them a week to see the changes and if there are no changes, we will start a mass protest. #togetherwecan,” he tweeted.
There has been renewed outrage across the country over the harassment, extortion and extra-judicial killings of innocent Nigerians by SARS operatives.
The Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, had in a swift reaction banned SARS personnel from engaging in routine patrols, stop-and-search, mounting of roadblocks and traffic checks with immediate effect.
But the #EndSARSNotBanSARS hashtag continues to trend on social media.
The Nigeria Police Force had also in their Twitter account announced yesterday that the spokesperson of the Force, Mba, would have an Instagram Live interview with Marley to answer questions and discuss the concerns of young Nigerians on the issue of SARS operations.
Reacting to the questions, Mba said the IG and the Force were committed to reforming SARS.
He said: “What we need to do is to reform SARS and make them responsive, responsible and make them work in accordance with laid down procedures. We need them to continue to respond to violent crimes. We need them to continue to respond to armed robberies. We need them to continue to respond to kidnappings.
Marley had also agreed that the police unit should not be scrapped but reformed.
“You talk about #EndSARS, you cannot end SARS but let us ask for reform. Why do you want to end SARS? Are you an armed robber?” Marley told his followers.
The singer, however, stressed on the need to get SARS operatives off the roads. According to him, “SARS is a special arm that should only come out during robbery incidents.”
He advised those exhuming old videos of SARS harassment to desist from such act as it heats up the society.
The singer also urged the police to give an update on SARS operatives that have been arrested and what has been done to compensate the families of the victims killed by SARS officers.