By Kingsley Omonobi
Nigerian Police Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, on Friday explained that aside going against dangerous criminals, 419ners, Yahoo boys and armed robbery suspects, operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), are “deeply” involved in the fight against banditry and terrorism in the northern part of the country.
Giving reasons why SARS cannot be scrapped as demanded by nationwide protests, Mba said they are specially trained to withstand criminals elements including kidnappers, armed bandits and militant’s among others who operate in very dangerous and deadly fashion.
Speaking at Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, the FPRO noted that following the outrage over the infractions of some of the operatives, the IGP has commenced reforming the operations of SARS officers nationwide to curtail such excesses.
He reiterated that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu has banned SARS personnel from engaging in routine patrols, stop-and-search, mounting of roadblocks and traffic checks with immediate effect.
But protesters have insisted that the ban announced on Sunday by the IGP was not the first of such bans as 6 other bans have been announced in the past and nothing happened.
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However, Mba said, “I have heard some critics say these instructions have been given before but I will challenge them to produce any other IGP that has given these instructions very clearly, articulated them very clearly as IGP Adamu has done.
He appealed to the general public to give the Police some time for the full implementation of the IGP instructions.
He urged Nigerians to be cautious about the clamour noting that different people have different motives for calling for the end to SARS but the Force would do everything possible to get rid of bad elements within SARS.
Mba said, “If EndSARS is a metaphor and is seen as a call for a symbolic reform of SARS, I will say clearly that the leadership of the NPF is in line and is ready to work with those who are making that call.
“However, if the EndSARS should be seen and interpreted as the total disbandment of SARS, I will tell you very clearly that it will be difficult for any responsible organization to walk that path taking into cognizance the amount of investment that government has made in training and setting up that department, (and) taking into cognizance the critical role that department is playing.
“As a matter of fact, we have also received a lot of calls from people, particularly in states like Yobe, Borno, Katsina and other parts of the north where SARS operatives are deeply embedded in the fight against banditry, in the fight against insurgency.
“And these people have made it very clear that ending SARS is not even an option for them because of the critical roles that SARS operatives are playing in those areas to rein down heavily on bandits, on terrorists and other kinds of violent criminals.”