Following the recent protests by Nigerians all over and even outside the federation calling on the authorities to disband the Special Anti Robbery Squad aka SARS owing to a number of nefarious activities allegedly committed by the unit recently, the Inspector General of the Nigerian Police, Mohammed Adamu yesterday announced the disbandment of the unit, citing a number of measures that would be taken in the light of such disbandment.
While we must commend Nigerians for carrying out these protests within the ambits of the law as well as the perceived triumph such concerted efforts which saw Nigerians from all walks of life come together to demand that the unit be either disbanded or reformed. The IGP’s decision is a testament to the existence of a ‘people power’ which when channeled properly can be as effective as we want it to be as well as help reposition our country to serve its citizenry.
However, it is not yet Uhuru even when we share optimistic hopes that the Nigerian Police with the disbandment of SARS will become a much more humane establishment living up to its billing as a police force. For example, asides SARS, Nigerians have always been inundated with news about police brutality, or infractions by uniformed officials, such infractions have on many occasions turned out to be quite bloody leaving their trail with what the late Afrobeat Maestro described as “Sorrow, tears and blood”. Now, if SARS has been disbanded, what about the police where these trigger happy officers of SARS policemen will be redeployed too? Will the SARS officers be tamed just like that? What about the policemen who kill because of 50 Naira?
Policing all over the world is all about the people, fairness to these people and living up to the duties to the people. The Nigerian Police establishment cannot be different, terrorizing it’s own people because they wear uniforms and have access to the trigger. The police authorities must therefore seek to invoke such an awareness not only in any establishment that might be formed to take over from SARS but also the police itself as an institution, otherwise we may still be living with a problem we thought we had solved.
To help curb the abuse of the police uniform, several efforts and checks must be put in place to ensure that police officers are properly restrained from carrying out such acts that have given the force a bad image despite its array of good men and women who are willing their lives to serve and to protect the people. In cases where it is reported that police officers have abused their badges, such cops should immediately be dismissed from service and charged based on the severe nature of their offense.
Another means of putting restraint on the police will be to hold senior officers in areas where such infractions are committed accountable. This will further put checks on these officers who know that if their superiors will be held accountable for their misdeeds then who will protect them?
Then there is the issue of welfare and remuneration of officers. This is majorly the cause of why so many officers are indisciplined and choose to compromise on their duties. A police officer who is properly remunerated will not resort to extorting from people.
Lastly, we must look to the issue of training of these officers. How are these officers trained? How are they evaluated? Are there psychological tests for these officers before we let them out into the society? What is the state of the training facilities of the Nigerian Police?
Like we said the disbandment of SARS is a good one but yet it is not yet uhuru!