OPINION: It's Time To End SARS
SARS: You have a tattoo? Why?
YOUNG NIGERIAN: Yes. I love tattoos.
SARS: It's a lie. You're a Yahoo Boy. You even have dreads, a laptop, a good phone and ride a Benz. You must be a Yahoo Boy.
YOUNG NIGERIAN: No sir. I'm not a Yahoo Boy. I am an IT guy and techie. I design websites for companies and start-ups…
SARS: *cocks his gun and pulls the trigger*
A dream is cut short -- for no reason.
This untimely passing of young Nigerians in the hands of trigger-happy operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigeria Police Force, has reached an alarming point.
Almost every other week, there is a report of a Nigerian brutalized or killed by a SARS operative. The number of attacks continue to rise like the price of petrol.
Thriving amid poor economic policies that daily strangulate businesses, young Nigerians have one more thing to worry about -- SARS.
Why SARS Was Created
According to Wikipedia, SARS was founded in 1992 by former police commissioner Simeon Danladi Midenda. The major reason SARS was formed was when Col. Rindam, a Nigerian Army Colonel was killed by police officers at a checkpoint in Lagos.
When the information reached the army, soldiers were dispatched into the streets of Lagos in search of any police officer. The Nigerian police withdrew from checkpoints, security areas and other points of interest for criminals, some police officers were said to have resigned while others fled for their lives.
Due to the absence of police for two weeks, crime rate increased and SARS was formed with only 15 officers operating in the shadows without knowledge of the army while monitoring police radio chatters.
Due to the existence of already established three anti-robbery squad which was operational at that time, Midenda needed to distinguish his squad from the already existing teams. Midenda named his team Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
After months of dialogue the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force came to an understanding and official police duties began again in Lagos. The SARS unit was officially commissioned in Lagos following a ceasefire by the army after settlement.
SARS is one of the 14 units in the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) which was established to detain, investigate and prosecute people involved in crimes like armed robbery, kidnapping and other forms of crimes.
Over the years, this unit of the Police Force has become synonymous with human rights abuses and deaths of young Nigerians.
There are even claims that personnel in this unit demand huge amount of money from citizens with others alleging that some operatives move around with Point Of Sale (POS) machines for persons who are without cash.
These continuous actions have led to the call for the end of this unit with the hashtag, #EndSARS. The response by past and present Inspector-Generals of Police has been a disbandment of the SARS unit.
After a week, SARS operatives are back to their trade. In the end, nothing changes, afterward.
Beside the usual press releases and tweets condemning the acts of these lawless men on arms, the federal government needs to make a strong statement by scrapping this unit that has brought more sorrow to Nigerians who they are to protect.
There is no better time to end the menace called SARS than now!