By Fredrick Nwabufo
The ‘End SARS Campaign’ is a shot in the air. The campaign is a combustion of citizens’ frustration without galvanised action. It is a right cause with a hollow purpose.
Police brutality and criminality predate SARS. I remember, in the days of ‘Operation Sweep’ in Lagos, there were surplus reports of police criminality – extra-judicial killings, harassment and extortion.
Really, the problem is the individuals peopling the police, and not the “unit”. The Nigeria police is still trapped in the Stalinist era of darkness. It is an entity of state terror. And an umbilical cord of inhumanity connects the top hierarchy of the police to the lees of the agency.
As a matter of fact, the police force, as it is today, is primed to be anti-people, but pro-government because of a lack of institutional and legal reform. This is why the police only excel in regime protection.
Ending SARS while the same vermin remain in the system will only recycle evil. If the unit is shut down now, in a few months, we will be back to where we are.
By the way, have you seen an honest policeman?
I did a little research on why the SARS unit of the police is brazen in criminality, and I found out that it stemmed from its mandate. SARS has been given “extra-terrestrial” powers; chief of which is to use all means to check violent crime – but in checking armed criminality innocent citizens are often the victims.
I think, it is perhaps, the most powerful unit in the police. A police acquaintance told me that most of his colleagues lobby vigorously to have themselves deployed in the unit. Why? Because it is a general and potent belief in the police that once you are deployed there, “you are made”. This accents the commonplace perception of the Nigeria police as the Sodom of corruption.
I plead with fellow citizens, who have faced the terror of SARS, while they are on EndSARS, should campaign for an immediate and sweeping reform of the police. Nothing will change if the Nigeria police is not reformed radically. And this reform must include a hierarchal purge of the agency. If 13 deputy inspectors-general of police could be compulsorily retired for Ibrahim Idris to become inspector-general of police, I see no reason why the purge of both the top hierarchy and the rank and file of the police will not be possible.
We must seize this moment to cause a revolution in the police. We have, for too long, “stood aside and looked” while they harassed, humiliated, intimidated, violated and extorted us.
Fredrick is a writer, journalist and media entrepreneur.
He can be reached on Twitter: FredrickNwabufo, Facebook: Fredrick Nwabufo