For over few days before this time, there have come into the public arena, several comments and positions leading to the agitation for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad Unit or Section of the Nigeria Police Force-herein after referred to as SARS-, the agitation and position which seems rather impossible to actualize, in the view of the writer of this paper.
This paper is an attempt at considering the agitations of the agitators and considering whether there is hope that the SARS will be scrapped considering the special roles being carried out by it in Nigeria.
SARS is a section of the Department of the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (CIID) of the Nigeria Police Force. According to the information gathered by the writer of this paper from www.npf.gov.ng, the summary of which is that ‘for efficient administration of the Nigeria Police Force, having observed the recent trends of event in the Social Media on the #ENDSARSNOW and the controversy being generated by the innuendos from the allegations and other misconceptions as it concerns the Operational roles and activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a detachment of the Nigeria Police Force. Undoubtedly, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, the Inspector-General of Police-herein after referred to as IGP-has directed the immediate re-organisation of the SARS nationwide and instant investigation into all the allegations, complaints and infractions leveled against the personnel of SARS across the country by the IGP X-Squad of the Force. Also, in the new arrangement, a Commissioner of Police is now the overall head of the Federal-SARS nationwide under the Department of Operations, Force Headquarters, Abuja. Therefore, the Federal-SARS will now exist and operate in the State and Zonal Commands under the Commissioner of Police (F-SARS) at the Force Headquarters. A Federal-SARS Commander of a Rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and not below Superintendent of Police (SP) will be in charge of F-SARS in State and Zonal Commands across the Country and a new training program is to be organized by the Force in collaboration with some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Local and International NGOs, and other Human Rights Organsiations on core Police Duties, Observant of Human Rights and Handling, Care and Custody of Suspects have been directed by the IGP for all F-SARS personnel nationwide with immediate effect. Furthermore, aggrieved members of the public who have any complaint in the past or present of violation of their rights by any SARS personnel anywhere in the country are to report through any of the following channels for investigation and further actions i. 09026900729, 08078662130’, 08174041000 (abbreviations and the words in the parentheses are the writer of this papers). Nevertheless the above decisions of the Nigeria Police Force’s IGP, it is the humble submission of the writer of this paper that both the agitations of the campaigners and the IGP’s decision as narrated above are belated. Though, the campaigners are congratulated by the writer of this paper for they have succeeded in the re-organisation of the Nigeria Police Force, however, the writer of this paper is of the strong doubt as to whether any responsible government would scrap a security section of the Police Force such as the SARS considering the importance of its roles in the combat of violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnappings, cattle rustling, etc, in the country in the recent time of the country where security is of great sacrilege.
Having considered both the agitations of the campaigners and the decisions of the IGP resulting from the campaign, the writer of this paper, though appreciates the immediate efforts of the IGP in respect of the agitations, doubts whether the re-organisation of the SARS as decided by the IGP is the actual cause of the effects of the allegations laid against the Force SARS by the campaigners and or the Nigerian public. The writer of this paper considers the decision of the IGP, especially that of the re-organisation of the SARS as a decision that is too hasty for its purposes. This is because, the quick decision might be evident that the office of the IGP perhaps has not really had a joint deliberation and adequate investigation into the allegations so as to extract and generate effective and efficient operation of the SARS. It is a considered strong view of the writer of this paper that, even though some campaigns might have been carried out in the past, the present campaign in question agitating for the scrapping of SARS is just some few days a go. It is the considered view most respectfully and with due respect to the IGP, that cases and of course, allegations of this nature require all stake holders, such as the Nigeria Police Council, Police Service Commission, etc., to put heads together in a joint decision to properly advise the IGP as to the truth of the allegations against the SARS followed with decisions for curbing the recurrence of such allegations. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should also not be left out. Moreover, it seems a proof that the IGP has just admitted all the allegations made against SARS as nothing but the truth. The writer of this paper will be interested to know the truth of the facts. Are the allegations true? Which of the allegations are not true? Which of them are rejected and or denied? All these questions will rather be easily and conveniently responded to where necessary investigations and stake holders’ meetings are conducted internally. The question the writer of this paper is really asking now is whether the current re-organisation of the SARS and of course, the Nigeria Police Force will have been able to correct the menace and curbed the recurrence of the anomaly, bearing in mind that the personnel complained against-i.e. SARS- are still the same, the problems already created are still on ground unresolved, e.t.c.? The IGP is respectfully advised to re-consider his decisions on this matter and to also consider the advice and suggestion made by this paper on the subject matter, for efficient and pro-active measures.
Having assessed the allegations complained by the campaigners, which majorly bother on violations of the fundamental rights of some Nigerian citizens who are the victims of the violations made by the alleged officers of the Nigeria Police Force SARS, and having considered the decisions of the IGP on the issue, the writer of this paper was able to identify some major problems which must have been the causes of the allegations.
First of all, the inefficient administrative monitoring of the Nigeria Police Force is a cause. This is because, where there is a continuous effective and efficient administrative monitoring as to the manners of operations of the SARS and the Police Force generally, the monitoring will no doubt lead to the discovery of some facts and allegations before such allegations lead to a public and national embarrassment and chaos as that of the present situation of calling for the scrapping of the SARS.
Second, the inefficient and ineffective complaints mechanism is another cause. The mechanism made available for lodging complaints to the police needs to be checked. What happens to the response calls phone numbers made for lodging complaints? Are they at all times reachable? How many complaints were made and were they effectively investigated to the belief, satisfaction and fairness of the public? What of the complaints boxes kept around various offices and the public for lodging criminal complaints? Are they being well monitored? Who is in charge of their monitoring? Will one drop a complaint in the box in the morning and receive an acknowledgement notice of his complaints before the day runs out or as soon as possible? Is there daily routine check on those boxes? Are the literate and the illiterate members of the public aware of those complaints mechanisms through constant awareness and enabled sensitization? How are the members of the public treated whenever they approach the police offices to lodge complaints? Why and until when will the excuse made by the police officers to the complainant about inadequate facilities for carrying out its functions as police force end? Among other questions. All these questions are very important to answer and get feed-back from the public by the IGP.
Lastly on the causes is the poor attitude and nonchalant attitude of the Nigerian public towards enforcement of their alleged violated fundamental rights by members of security agencies or in this case, the SARS. It has been observed by the writer of this paper in his professional practice as a human rights lawyer, that some of the victims have a united ideology of always leaving the violation to God Almighty to resolve on their behalf, even where they find a lawyer or someone who is ready to secure justice for them. This then annoyingly affects the cause of justice itself. The Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Porcedure) Rules, 2009-herein after referred to as FREPR- and other human rights laws-local and international- all encourage any person who alleges that any of his rights contained in the law has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any State in relation to him to apply to a High Court in that State for redress. And by the Order III of the FREPR, an application for the enforcement of Fundamental Right shall not be affected by any limitation Statute whatsoever. Therefore, the writer of this paper of this paper is of the submission that were violations of fundamental rights by the security agencies have been enforced continuously in courts, with reliable and substantial evidence of the violations tendered before the court and high costs worth millions of naira are severally awarded against the agency, this would have definitely put a check on the operational system of the concerned agency, such as SARS. However, the judiciary too has roles to play in the effectiveness and fairness of justice to the applicant and or victim of the violations in securing justice for him and speedy trial of the suit. The Nigerian public is further advised to learn about how to document evidence they tend to use to proof or might likely be useful in proving those violations against the violators by whatever means, electronic, paper, etc, means. Furthermore, after the violations, the victim himself or by the help of another, should get a lawyer specialized in public laws to seek redress for him. It is the submission of the writer of this paper that fundamental rights enforcement is an aspect of public law and public laws is a specialized field of law. Specialization is gained in the long time experiences in handling a specific area of law. The writer of this paper hereby calls on any person or the relative of any person who has been or who is being or is likely to become victim of violation of human rights whether at the moment, one year a go, two years a go, ten years a go, etc., no matter the period and who has evidence to proof the alleged violation(s), to take necessary steps in seeking redress of such violation(s).
Finally, it is the views and beliefs of the writer of this paper that the Nigeria Police Force, the IGP and all other stakeholders in the Nigeria Police Force and the general public will find this paper useful and take appropriate steps where necessary in the security and protection of the national image and the enforcement of human rights of the Nigerian citizens. Furthermore, the writer of this paper is of the strong view that the agitation by the agitators agitating for the scrapping of a security section of the Nigeria Police Force, such as SARS, is just a mission that seems impossible and no responsible government will ever embark on such decision.