The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was formed by former police commissioner Simeon Danladi Midenda following an event that occurred in 1992.
The unfortunate event involved Col.Rindam, a Nigerian army colonel who was killed by police officers at a checkpoint in Lagos. This prompted the army to go to the streets of Lagos in search of any police officer.
In lieu of this, the Nigerian police force withdrew from checkpoints in several security areas and fled. As a result of the absence of police, the rate of crime in Lagos increased thereby leading to the formation of SARS – formed with only fifteen officers operating discreetly without knowledge of soldiers and the police.
After months of dialogue with the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police Force in Lagos, a unit for SARS was officially commissioned in Lagos following a cease fire by the army after settlement.
Over the years, there have been controversies concerning the operations of SARS as Nigerians feel that they have deviated from their set tasks.
There have been various events where SARS operation has been compromised due to their brutality against Nigerians especially the youth.
The prevalence of internet fraud has created an avenue for SARS officials to exploit the youths with certain confrontations between SARS operatives and civilians ending with fatalities mostly affecting the latter.
With this development, Royal FM reporters took to the streets of Oke-Odo to gather the opinions of Kwarans on the acclaimed movement to end the SARS brutality – an issue that has garnered prominence nationwide while sparking peaceful protests.
A man who identified himself as Mark Victor said there should be an anti-cybercrime unit put in place for the identification of internet fraudsters, as SARS do parade around streets and harass ‘suspected fraudsters’ by searching them – a move which is outside their scope.
There has been an habit of SARS officials searching people without a warrant just because they own expensive items such as iPhones, designer clothes and accuse them of indulging in internet fraud locally fashioned as ‘yahoo yahoo’.
However, the Commissioner of Police, Kwara State Polices Command Cp. Kayode Egbetokun has reiterated that there is no F-SARS in Kwara State, noting that the SARS in Kwara State Command is fully and completely operating under strict supervision of the Commissioner of Police.
In a statement signed by Police Public Relations Officer Sp. Okasanmi Ajayi, the commissioner noted that SARS do not investigate cases and could be seen on the street only when responding to distress during emergencies or when performing their core assignments of robbery and kidnapping.
He also reaffirmed that searching and checking of phones and harassment of innocent citizens by police officers in the Command remain banned but this has not stopped the outrage by concerned citizens.
Corruption is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into Nigeria especially the government, thereby causing a counter attack on the economy. The special anti-robbery squad is not an exception, on various occasions there have been accusations against them on charges of bribery and exploitation of citizens whether guilty of an offence or not. If an individual is found guilty it is possible for them to bribe their way out with a pat on the shoulder.
A stylist in Oke-Odo, Mrs. Jadesola stated that security in Nigeria is a double-edged sword – having both the good and the bad. She further commended the security unit on a job well done.
Nevertheless, she expressed disapproval saying their initiative is corrupted by the manner through which they take for it is inappropriate and at times, illegal. She hinted at the fact that they seem to focus their attention on the youth instead of their assigned task of anti-robbery pioneers.
Students also have something to say about the movement as they go on social media and express their stance with trending hashtags on twitter such as #EndSars and #EndSarsBrutality. Adam, a concerned student also aired his views saying that students and young people have become introverted in their respective living spaces due to fear of going out and encountering SARS officials.
From the series of views gathered, it was learnt that SARS operatives are fond of going into hostels to ransack properties going against a fundamental human right to individual privacy documented in the Nigerian Constitution.
The big question (s) remains unanswered, if SARS is not scrapped will the brutality cease? or should the initiative of bad egg be implemented, or will crime rates skyrocket as a result of its absence?
Finally, should the fight be against Ending SARS or ending the incessant brutality and killings?