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Thursday, August 16, 2018

#EndSARS Ekhomu applauds IGP for overhauling SARS - ITREALMS

The President of Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Dr. Ona Ekhomu has commended the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris on administrative and operational measures announced to overhaul the special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) whose name had become synonymous with human rights abuses, reports ITREALMS.

The prompt action, he said, by the IGP showed that the government was responsive to the concerns and complaints of citizens.”

In a press release issued on Wednesday, Dr. Ekhomu said that the new administrative measure which centralizes the SARS organization in the office of the IGP was a mistaken strategy which will deepen lack of accountability of the unit. He said the problem with SARS was not the organizational structure but their excessively violent behavior which involved brutality, torture, high-hardened extra-judicial murders and so on.

The security expert said that it was a “big mistake” to relocate SARS from FCID to Operations Directorate. He said that SARS, as a tactical/detective unit naturally and operationally resides in the Investigations Directorate. Stressing “reform must be aimed at improving process activities, service delivery, and quality of service but reform should never be for its own sake” he noted.

Dr. Ekhomu said that the investigative strategy of the Nigeria Police Force had been to cast SARS as the “bad cop” which was designed to strike fear in the hearts of hardened criminals. 

“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” he added.

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 co-operation are vital in effective policing.” 

Ekhomu said that new administrative, programmatic and technological means must be found to increase the effectiveness of SARS in combating armed robbery and kidnapping as mandated by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

The administrative means should go beyond redesign of the SARS organogram, forensic psychiatry, issuance of ID cards to field operatives, and opening of human rights desks. It should include robust risk mitigation, background vetting of each SARS personnel, talent–spotting crack detectives for SARS, training and retraining and security certification.

According to the security expert, programmatic means should include inter-agency co-operation, community liaison (especially with traditional rulers and other leaders), informant programs, reward programs, etc.

Ekhomu said that the directive from the acting president Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to carry out intelligence-led policing meant that Nigeria Police Force must invest in policing technologies to improve its effectiveness. He said that the long awaited criminal database should be set up to solve crimes.

He said that SARS detectives should now be trained in crime scene forensics to enable the harnessing of the power of criminalistics in crime fighting.

He said that the presidential mandate to overhaul SARS provides an opportunity for a new beginning in crime fighting in the country, he asked the NPF to seize opportunity to demonstrate that it is truly a great agency.  

Ayo Midele/GEE

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