The Force Headquarters in Abuja, was the center of a solidarity protest march by hundreds placard carrying members of Groups such as Concerned Market men and women, Eminent Persons Forum and the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC), expressing support for the planned reorganization of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.
The rally came against the backdrop of calls by Nigerians on social media urging the police authorities to disband and scrap the special anti-robbery unit, over rampant alleged rights abuses by some officers of the unit.
The rally which commenced from Eagle Square started at about 10:am and moved to Force headquarters thus paralyzing traffic, after which the participants ended at the Force Headquarters maingate demanding to meet IGP Ibrahim Idris, with a view to submitting their statement.
Displaying such placards with inscriptions such as “Reorganization and Reform of SARS is the only Solution”, “Nigerians, Let Us Support the Reform of SARS” among others, the protesters said they were in support of the operation of the police anti-robbery unit, saying scrapping the unit will boost the morale of armed robbers in their trade.
Speaking after leaders of the various groups addressed the gathering, National Coordinator of the Concerned Men and Women of Nigeria, Hajia Hadiza Ishaku, said the organization deemed it fit to stage the solidarity in support of the anti-robbery unit of the Nigeria Police so that people all over the world can know that those calling for its scrapping were a few individuals.
While handing over a letter of support to the IGP through his representative, Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of operations, DIG Joshack Habila, Deputy National President, North of Police Community Relations Committee, Sanusi Maijama appreciated that policing was a complex job the world over.
He said, “The recent campaign in the social media calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-robbery Squad, SARS, a unit of the Nigeria Police Force is not in the best interest of Nigerians most especially for the Armed robbery and kidnap victims and their families.
“We call on all Nigerians to support the reform of SARS as announced by the Inspector General of Police to make it better under the Federal SARS arrangement and a Commissioner of Police already appointed by the IGP to head SARS to be allowed to work to make F-SARS more effective and efficient.
“This is because, while we agree that some people have had sour encounter with personnel of the unit, we should cooperate and allow the investigations as directed by the IGP that the Police X-Squad should investigate all allegations of human rights violation against SARS in the past, “he said.
“SARS is a special unit of the Nigeria Police Force which was specifically created to combat armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes.
“Many people and their relations have, at one time or the other, been rescued from either kidnappers, or deadly armed robbers by the officers of the SARS unit and all of us must appreciate this.
“SARS has over the years, performed excellently well as it has assisted in arresting some notorious criminals in different parts of the country and allow market men and women to continue to do their businesses and other activities very well nationwide.
“Just as there is no perfect human institution or person that is why reforming SARS is the best way to go.
Speaking on nehalf of IGP Idris, DIG Habila advised all those with complaints against fficers of SARS to bring forward their complaints, saying Police was ready to immediately act on their complaints.
He said, ”I want to appreciate this efforts you made today to educate and to encourage security agencies not just the police but all other stakeholders in the internal security platform.
“I’m also happy today that you are not saying the community and the public are wrong in reassessing SARS that is a question now but that you are telling the Inspector General of Police that you want to support the reorganization of SARS due to complaints of abuse of rights, abuse of the process and going beyond the procedure and the rules and regulations of the conduct of internal security.
“I want to inform you that the Inspector General of Police has already given directive that SARS must be reorganized to meet the expectations of the community.
“We are living in a global world where anything can be heard anywhere. I want to assure you that we will carry everybody along. I want to inform you that the SARS will take the shape of a commissioner of Police.
“We will supervise them closely to make sure that they comply with the standard operation procedure of the SARS.