The federal government put smiles on the faces of Nigerians at the weekend when it responded to a more than two years clarion call by Nigerians for the scrapping of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad popularly called FSARS. Since the Unit went off the radar discharging roles outside its official mandate the Nigerian public never stopped crying over the heinous crime it was committing against the helpless masses.
Things got to a head for it last week when it reportedly shot a young man at Ughelli, Delta State in front of a hotel by some of its operatives. The Inspector General of Police also banned other tactical squads of the force including the Special Tactical Squad, Intelligence Response Team, Anti-Cultism Squad, and other squads operating at the Federal, Zonal and Command levels from carrying out routine patrols.
The agonies of the people were captured in the words of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo when he said, “I am very concerned and in fact sometimes angry about what I see happening to young men and women who are arrested and, in some cases, maimed or killed by men of the police force.
Continuing, he said, “it is completely objectionable, it is unacceptable. These are individuals who are meant to protect Nigerians. The arrest, maiming, killing of young people, or anyone at all by these individuals is completely wrong. It is unlawful, it is illegal and all those involved ought to be investigated and prosecuted.”
While we appreciate the actions of the government for bringing this relief to Nigerians we are asking the authorities to go a step further to sanitize the police system. The police as an institution is a critical tool for ensuring peace and stability in the society without which development cannot thrive. The impact of its activities is felt all over the economy
Outside the SARS matter the actions of the police in the manner it is executed have continued to attract wide spread condemnation. It is sad to remark that even when its efforts are supposed to be curbing and discouraging crimes, it is instead promoting it. The manner the Unit has carried on has created loss of confidence in the organization by the public. Consequently, the police became a tool in the hands of the bad members of the public and corrupt government officials.
Compromising the police is the surest way to evade crime as is conspicuously evident in the tolls they collect on our roads. It is said that it takes two to tango and this is the reason we condemn the members of the public who attempt to rubbish the police. Crime is on the ascendancy especially because of the low integrity of the police. Notwithstanding, we appreciate the other challenges suffered by the security agency.
There is no unit in the police system that is free of compromise. Same charge for which SARS was banned also infected other units including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which also adopts a gestapo approach invading the privacy of the youths. There is need to continually reform and review the activities of the police.
News Echo wishes to advise the government that for it to be able to stem crime in our society, it should focus attention on a few issues. The recruitment system should run in a manner that it can sieve bad elements. We frown at a situation where politicians and other privileged government officials use the opportunity to push into the force bad eggs of the society just to free themselves of their stress.
The Unit heads should be held accountable for misdemeanors committed by operatives of those units. This is necessary to have a hold on their performances. It is rumored that some of the crimes perpetrated by the operatives are usually at the instance of the senior officials who assign them to beats.
News Echo wishes to advise that the government should take seriously the challenge of protecting Nigerians in the hands of its own security agents. As is typical of government, the ban should not be quashed through a policy somersault. We are aware that in the past the authorities have many times banned road check points but they resurrected in various other forms and nomenclature, taking a worse turn.
We should not ignore the menace of hoodlums in the society completely as they are bound to take advantage of the situation to inflict more damage. No amount of resources committed to protecting lives is too much. We should further reform the police system.