In the early 1990s, residents of Lagos State witnessed an increase in the spate of armed robbery around the lkeja capital city and some entry points. The robbers were usually from neighboring countries. Banks and exotic flashy cars were their targets.
Innocent Nigerians, including policemen, lost thir lives and many cars and firearms were forcefully snatched by the robbers. Sequel to the unfortunate development, the Inspector-General of Police at the time, Alhaji Aliyu Attah, approved the establishment of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) at Adeniji-Adele, Lagos lsland, with Officer Fulani Kwajarfa as the first coordinator, while Mr. Yemi Odubela, who was the Personal Staff Officer to IGP Attah, was posted as the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, and Ben Ohazuluike (now late) who was at Mopol 8, Jos, was drafted to be in charge of the Lagos SARS. The original personnel of the SARS were trained Mobile Policemen, not conventional policemen who could not withstand armed robbers.
They were patriotic officers who fought robbers like Shina Rambo, Lawrence Anini and others. Good officers like Simeon Midenda, Amusa Bello, Sunday Mitshubi ,Tunde Shobulo, Baba Majidaji, Adamu Musa, Joe Akpambu, Taiwo Lakanu, Luka Auta, Sam Okaula, Alphonsus Odogwu, etc.
The successes of the team endeared it to the IGP. However, rot became more evident when the activities of the department started impeding on the freedom of Nigerians under the rudderless leadership of former IGP Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, who exited in January 2019. Unfortunately, before his retirement, the sins of SARS had reached high heavens, as the social media were agog with calls for the proscription of the SARS units across the country .The saving grace was the appointment of a new IGP, Adamu Mohammed, who had international experience as the vice-president of the International Police (Interpol).
His assumption of office helped to quel the raging public agitation.In fact, despite the promised reorganisation of the unit, the police authorities have been found to be sleeping again on duty by allowing bad eggs initially flushed out of the FSARS system to sneak into the system through the back door.
Like bedbugs, they have laid eggs and infested the good ones left in the system. How else can Nigerians believe that a thorough cleansing was carried out during the 2019 outcry? Supervision of the activities of the squad was almost at zero level. They move about like strange dogs without any handler. They extort money from victims, harass innocent Nigerians and attract a bad name to the police institution.
Today, from all indications, it looks like Nigerians were taken for a ride. In a piece he wrote in his popular column in the defunct Sunday Concord newspaper, the late Dele Giwa described Nigerians as a “Forgetful people.” Could that be the game plan of the police in announcing that a reorganization of the SARS unit would be carried out? How do we juxtapose the present list of rules marshalled out by the IGP this time around, based on the current nationwide agitation?
Interestingly, the IGP placed a blanket ban on the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other tactical squads of the police force, including the Special Tactical Squad (STS), Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Anti-Cultism Squad and others operating at the federal, zonal and command levels, from carrying out routine patrols and other conventional low-risk duties henceforth.
The duties include stop-and-search, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks and traffic checks, among others. The truth is, what happened to the initial directive similar to the new directive? Could it be that there was no will to implement the directive, or are the boys now very audacious? Or how do we explain a situation where an IGP issues a directive and it is flouted non-stop? If civilians can obey security instructions why would security agents who are trained be the culprits? If l may ask, were these directives not the same issued in 2019? No wonder Dele Giwa understood the mentality of Nigerians, who are encumbered with daily activities that force them to forget incidents easily.
This is not the first time Nigerians are hearing that the IGP had specifically warned the squads against the invasion of the privacy of citizens, particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorized search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices.
Also, that they are to concentrate and respond only to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes, when the need arises. The IGP added that the FSARS and other squads remain a critical component of the force in confronting prevailing and emerging violent crimes in the country. In the early 80s and 90s, the Nigeria Police was known for thorough supervision of its personnel on security duties like patrol and other investigative outings. If they were well supervised most of the unfortunate incidents that members of the public are complaining about now would have been nipped in the bud. Must the IGP wait for elites like the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and Apostle Johnson Suileman to speak out before issuing a press statement? Now that the governors have raised their golden hands to applaud the police statement, one is quick to ask them if they too are recycling press statements because they know that most of their subjects are forgetful.
Does the IGP have to wait until the police image is disparaged before a statement is issued? Many security observers are inclined to believe that the retirement date of IGP Adamu is partially responsible for the nosediving image of the FSARS unit, since he is scheduled to exit the Nigeria Police on January 30, 2021.
Dennis Amachree, congratulations!
Good works speak for people with time. Many knew him when he diligently served the country under the Department of State Service (DSS) as an Assistant Director. Today, his good works have attracted Nigeria’s national honour of MON (Member, Order of the Niger).
A thorough security professional, he has once again been honoured with the Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPA) Lifetime Achievement Award 2020.
The managing director of the OSPA, Professor Martin Gill, of the University of Leicester, announced the award in the first virtual presentation, after a Thought Leadership Webinar titled “The Impact of COVID-19 in Nigeria: What has been the impact and the security response?”
SECURITY FILE congratulates you.