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The controversy surrounding the operation of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police in Nigeria got to its peak recently, as critics and analysts took diverse positions on whether or not to scrap the unit.

The controversy surrounding the operation of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police in Nigeria got to its peak recently, as critics and analysts took diverse positions on whether or not to scrap the unit.

This followed allegations that officers attached to the squad have become a nuisance to the society in the line of their work with disturbing reports and video clips documenting their assault on members of the public at the slightest provocation. Some also argue that the status quo be maintained due to SARS' critical role in curbing armed robbery and kidnapping as well as maintenance of law and order. The barrage of opposition against SARS and the police have been growing over the years due to police brutality and crude and unlawful tactics.
A 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) had labeled the Nigeria Police under the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris as the worst in the world. There is no doubt that SARS as presently constituted is a menace to the society it was established to protect and clearly cannot continue to function in its present form. However, disbanding it may not be the right approach even though officers attached to it have allegations of sexual abuses, torture, intimidation and extra-judicial killing of innocent people, as well as aiding and abetting crime to content with.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike had also claimed that operatives of the SARS in his state are involved in armed robbery and kidnapping. He supported his claim with an official Police Wireless Message with “Reference Number DT0: 121030/09/2017-INGENPOL-X-FHQ ABUJA TO -INGENPOL SEC ABUJA, which allegedly linked three members of the squad to a robbery incident in the state.
Nigeria Moment appreciates the move by the Inspector General of Police to reorganize and retrain members of the squad to make them more accountable after his earlier insensitivity to various complaints of serious misconduct against officers of the unit. We believe that this is a better option as it would strengthen the elite squad, restore its credibility and remove them from the control of politicians in power, who often use them to settle political scores, as well as manipulate elections. therefore the Executive and Legislative arms of the federal government as well as civil society groups and the public should rise up to the occasion and ensure that the IGP delivers a reorganized SARS that will combat crime effectively within the ambit of the constitution and protect and defend the rights of citizens.

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