– The Sun News
SPECIAL ANTI ROBBERY

SARS: So, Wike was right…

The biggest news in town last week, though the least reported, was the dismissal of four men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police in Lagos.

Ken Ugbechie

Forget the soap opera at the National Assembly. Flip the page on the dogfight between two of the shortest politicians in Nigeria, Adams Oshiomhole, the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige. For both incidents, it’s just deja vu. We’ve seen it before. Politicians making fools of themselves; eternally brewing politics in lieu of good governance.

The biggest news in town last week, though the least reported, was the dismissal of four men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police in Lagos.

READ ALSO: 4 SARS operatives dismissed for robbery, kidnapping, others

The four goons were dismissed for various crimes including armed robbery. The dismissed officers are Sgt. Adeoye Adekunle, Sgt. Adekitan Adebowale, Sgt. Agbi Lucky and Sgt. Odighe Hehosa. They were dismissed and subsequently charged to court for armed robbery, kidnapping, unlawful detention, and intimidation, as well as threatening violence, the police said.

A panel recommended them for dismissal based on the report of investigation carried out on a petition (dated May 2, 2018) against them by Citizen Chukwudi Godwin Odionye, popularly referred to as ‘Bishop’.

Here is the police brief on the matter: “The petitioner stated that on June 4, 2017, he was in his house around Alagbado area of the state, when four armed men stormed his house to effect his arrest on the allegation of performing ‘Fake’ miracles.

“He stated that after his arrest, he was taken to one hotel at Agege, where he was detained and threatened to be killed, if he fails to cooperate.

“He explained further that the following day, June 5, 2017, he was taken to the bank where he was made to transfer N7 million to the account of one of the operatives.”

Dolapo Badmus, spokesperson for Zone 2 Command, said that on receipt of the petition, the AIG, Adamu Ibrahim, ordered investigation into the matter.

“On the strength of the investigation, it was revealed that no proper police procedure for investigation was followed in Chukwudi’s arrest.

“The four SARS operatives actually abducted the man from his house and unlawfully detained him in the hotel for personal gain,” she said. And for their unprofessional and criminal conduct, they were dismissed and charged. Kudos to Zone 2 Command and the AIG. Nigeria needs more of this.

Their dismissal in Lagos echoes loud and clear into Rivers State. Long before now, as far back as 2017, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State had pointedly accused SARS of being behind the spate of crime and criminality in his state.

READ ALSO: Wike, SARS and citizen revolt

Wike was categorical and he did not deploy the sophistry of language that lent his statement to ambiguity. He pointedly accused SARS of engaging in kidnapping and armed robbery in the state. He did not say this at a political rally. He spoke with newsmen in Port Harcourt.

READ ALSO: APC congress: Illegal use of SARS vindicates us – Wike

His exact words: “Most of the kidnappings and armed robberies taking place in this state are done by men of SARS. They use exhibit vehicles to operate. As the Chief Security Officer of the state, you complain, but they choose to play politics with crime.

“They fight crime in some states but they refuse to fight crime in Rivers State. We are done with the elections, but they are using SARS to create insecurity in the state. As I speak with you, they will deny.

“I have never seen a country where they politicise crime. It is very obvious that they want to give the impression that Rivers State is unsafe. They want to instill fear preparatory to declaring during the elections that there are so many killings. Authorities deliberately trying to destroy a whole state and you want the people to be happy. I will no longer write (to the IGP). Now is the time to take my case to the public for the whole world to know what is happening”.

Expectedly, some persons accused Wike of subterfuge and red herring. But many residents of the state knew Wike was right. There were instances of extortion, abduction by persons suspected to be SARS operatives. Victims, out of fear, did not report officially to the police. They merely grumbled to their friends and relations.

Cast politics aside, Nyesom Wike has been a strong advocate of a free Nigeria, void of institutional siege. He has consistently challenged “the pros, even in their own backyard”, apologies to General Colin Powell. When he blew the whistle on SARS to trigger an #EndSARS campaign, many did not see the merit in his courage. Matters were even made worse when the police hierarchy tried to pooh-pooh his position on SARS. The IGP tried to defend his men but caved in after much public pressure. He promised some level of reforms and training for SARS operatives.

Now, Nigerians know better. Lagos Zone 2 Command has put a lie to every attempt to cover up for SARS operatives. Make no mistake about it. There ar e good cops, in fact, many good cops. But there also bad cop, albeit a few of them. It is this few clan of bad cops that taint the rest. This is what the Lagos Zone 2 Command has helped to establish. It is such self-cleansing that the other Commands should engage in rather than putting up defence for some bad eggs incapable of getting any better.

For the avoidance of doubt, SARS is a special section of the Nigeria Police Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID), the highest investigating arm of the Nigeria Police. There are 13 other sections of this department. This makes it a very important unit

and whoever created it should be commended. But it does appear that SARS has gone sour like a poorly preserved soup.

On several occasions, the exploits of SARS have saved many lives, aborted robberies, assassinations and sundry crimes. In Lagos, for instance, this writer had once profited from the quick and efficient intervention of men of SARS for which they stand eternally commended. Yet, when they go overboard, when they seem to be agents and catalysts for the same crime they were supposed to combat, they should be censured.

The lesson here is that we must not be quick to dismiss an allegation just for political correctness. When Wike demonstrated a rare courage to alert the public to the danger posed by SARS in his state, many, including those within the security apparatchik, gave him cold shoulder. But what he described last year as the modus operandi of these SARS operatives was what the police in Zone2 Command found out in its investigation this year.

And now that Zone 2 Command has shown the way, can we have a proper inquisition into the activities of SARS in other zones and states particularly in Rivers State where the governor was the only one who gathered plunk to expose the malfeasance of these men now preying on those they are paid to protect.

Nigeria needs SARS but it must be SARS that plays by the rule not one that indulges in larceny and engages in fatal fantasy at its own whim.

Who knows how many other Nigerians have tasted the bitter pills of SARS. Some may not even be as lucky as Citizen Chukwudi to tell their story.

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Tokunbo David
Tokunbo David

Writer and editor.

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