Security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, has commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, over the administrative and operational measures announced to overhaul the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), following the directive of the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, saying his prompt action showed that government was responsive to the concerns and complaints of citizens.
In a press release by his media aide, Tope Adesuyi,Ekhomu, who is president of Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), however, said the new administrative measures, which centralises the SARS organisation in the office of the IGP, was a mistaken strategy that would deepen lack of accountability of the unit.
He said the problem with SARS was not the organisational structure, but their excessively violent behavior, which involved brutality, torture, high-hardened extra-judicial murders and so on.
Ekhomu stated that it was a “big mistake” to relocate SARS from FCID to Operations Directorate, noting that SARS, as a tactical/detective unit, naturally and operationally resides in the investigations directorate; hence “reform must be aimed at improving process activities, service delivery and quality of service and never for its own sake.”
He noted that the investigative strategy of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) had been to cast SARS as the “bad cop,” which was designed to strike fear in the hearts of hardened criminals, adding: “However, due to poor supervision and a culture of corruption, the squad went rogue- torturing, maiming and killing, as alleged by the #ENDSARS campaigners and Amnesty International (AI).”
According to Ekhomu: “The strong-arm tactics of SARS has tainted the entire Police Force and created a gulf between the people and the Police agency. That is why people “fear” the Police and refuse to give information that could help in solving crimes. “Unfortunately, citizen trust and cooperation are vital in effective policing,” he added.
Ekhomu said new administrative, programmatic and technological means must be found to increase the effectiveness of SARS in combating armed robbery and kidnapping, as mandated by Osinbajo, and should go beyond redesign of the SARS organogram, forensic psychiatry, issuance of ID cards to field operatives and opening of human rights desks, saying: “It should include robust risk mitigation, background vetting of each SARS personnel, talent-spotting crack detectives for SARS, training and retraining and security certification.
He stressed the need for the Police to invest in policing technologies to improve its effectiveness, while the long-awaited criminal database should be set up to solve crimes and SARS detectives trained in crime scene forensics to enable the harnessing of the power of criminalistics in crime fighting.The security expert also stated that the presidential mandate to overhaul SARS provides an opportunity for a new beginning in crime fighting in the country.