A security expert, Dr Ona Ekhomu, has cautioned the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, on the centralisation of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Ekhomu, while commending Idris for promptly obeying the directive of the acting President Yemi Osinbajo to overhaul the unit due to complaints of human rights abuses, noted that the problem with SARS was not organisational structure.
In a statement on Wednesday, the security expert said the violent behaviour of the officials, which involved brutality, torture and extrajudicial murders, was the problem.
The President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria said centralising the control of SARS in the IG’s office was “a mistaken strategy which will deepen lack of accountability of the unit.”
“It is a big mistake to relocate SARS from the FCID to Operations Directorate. The SARS, as a tactical/detective unit, naturally and operationally resides in the investigations directorate. A reform must be aimed at improving process activities, service delivery and quality of service.
“The investigative strategy of the Nigeria Police Force had been to cast SARS as the ‘bad cop’ 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 said.
Ekhomu said a new administrative, programmatic and technological means must be found to increase the effectiveness of SARS.
“The administrative means should go beyond redesigning 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 security certification,” he added