The #EndSARs campaign and the need for immediate police reform

by Ajadi Daniel

There is perhaps an urgent need for police reform in Nigeria beyond the social media outrage against the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force.

The social media outrage which had been on for a while had generated a lot of conversation and pitted citizens against police Authorities. Apart from these, the #EndSARs campaign has led to an unusual social mobilization of evidences from various quarters against officers of SARS, with video showing SARs’ brutality to innocent citizens with impunity. The police responding to the online engagement initially questioned the veracity of the videos and reports, and even alleged that the #EndSARs campaign is being facilitated by cultists and robbers. But later the IGP ordered the restructuring of SARs.

The question is, what exactly does the IG want restructured in SARs? Are there any reasons to continue keeping them? Have they achieved the purpose for which they were created? Even the IG might not be able to answer some of these questions, because as usual, government parastatals do not reply with facts and figures, because they simply don’t have them.

There are several things fundamentally wrong with the entirety of the Nigerian police force, yes, SARs has been excessively brutal and arrogant in their dealings with the citizens, and in some cases, there had been reports of unlawful killing, detention, sexual harassment, extortion as well as torture, but all these can as well apply to other departments of the Nigerian police force. There is hardly a department of Nigerian police that is immune from these allegations, maybe killings.

Beyond the scrapping of SARs, there is need for immediate and comprehensive police reform that begins at the point of recruitment and training. What kind of people applies to Nigerian police force, they are definitely not people who are genuinely concerned and committed to the ethics of law enforcement and citizens/police relations.

Also one wonders what is contained in the police curriculum, because a typical Nigerian police officer does not strike you as someone who undergoes any form of training. For those that claimed to be trained, their kind of training only tells them that every young man that uses a certain model of car is involved in yahoo yahoo, or the ones with dreads are cultist. That is a lazy training that does not task the mind of the law enforcement agent in the art of criminal investigation.

Nigerian police has no respect or whatsoever for the citizens, and they are also the most careless among all other paramilitary forces especially when it comes to the use of their guns. They handle their guns carelessly and they could shoot at innocent citizens anytime as they deem fit.

There is no need to restructure SARS because there would never be one as longs as it is the present IG Ibrahim Idris, his words are empty. He has issued official order that road blocks be dismantled, yet there are still plethora of road blocks across the country.

 There is need for a total overhaul of the police structure.

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