By Jacob Ajom
For close to two weeks now, Nigerian youths have been on the streets demonstrating against police brutality especially ones perpetuated by the Special Anti Robbery Squad, which goes by the acronym, SARS.
Apart from, SARS, the demonstrators are demanding a comprehensive reform of the Nigeria Police, a review of the condition of service and improved welfare for the police. And does appear the demands are growing as days go by.
The protest which has escalated to all states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory has been received by the international community like a raging wild fire.
In his reaction to the general discontent, President Mohammadu Buhari, after a meeting with the police hierarchy directed the IG to disband the notorious SARS. In compliance with the presidential directive, the IG announced that SARS had been proscribed. He added that a new outfit, in the form of SWAT would be created to replace the much vilified SARS.
The IG’s pronouncement triggered more demonstrations. The protesting youths feel the government was playing on their intelligence by substituting one form of SARS with another under a different name.
But Tosan Eyiwunmi, a security expert and consultant to the Nigeria Police has said that contrary to the widespread belief, the Inspector-General of Police was yet to create any unit to replace SARS.
Speaking for the first time since the crisis started, Eyiwunmi who is the CEO of Crime Fighters told Weekend Vanguard that the IG only said that a new unit, in the form of SWAT would be created to replace SARS, meaning he was only telling the people what the police would do, following the disbandment of SARS. “SWAT which means Special Weapons and Tactics is a generic word in the security corridor across the world.
SWAT is used in America, it is used in Germany and even in Britain. It is not a word that is coined by the Nigeria Police or by the IG. And As it were, he has not constituted any body or unit. He was just explaining to members of the public that a unit like SWAT would come in place of the dissolved SARS. As we speak, there is no new unit like that as he wanted to reassure Nigerians that there won’t be any vacuum in the security network of the nation. He was assuring the people that the Nigeria Police Force would live up to its responsibility by constituting another body that would carry out the duties that would be in tandem with the functions of SWAT.”
Explaining further, Eyiwunmi said, “SWAT is usually and generally a body that is expected to respond to violent crimes and they work with intelligence and technology, which is different from SARS. SWAT is not a body that you see everyday on the road. But because the public misunderstood him, that is why there has been this negative reaction.”
She insisted, the IG has not created another unit. “That is in the pipeline. He was only saying, that is what he intended to do. Before they put it together, those people would have to be specially trained because SWAT is a technical, tactical that would have to be trained by professionals. It is not a place you put in every Dick, Tom and Harry because it requires well trained personnel.”
She informed that SWAT is not the regular policemen one finds on the road or streets on patrol. “Just like the FBI in America is not the regular policemen one finds everywhere, that is how SWAT operatives would function.
She clarified the misconceptions some analysts have propounded against the formation of SWAT when there was already in place a Mobile Police unit. “The Mobile Police is created to quell riots but SWAT is meant to work on highly technical matters bothering on intelligence and mostly operate in plain clothes. For instance, in the case of kidnapping, you can’t wear police uniform to go and arrest kidnappers because you would have given yourself out already. Before they go, they would have done their investigation and worked on the intelligence gathered.