There were fireworks in Abuja on Thursday when the Police and activists on #EndSARS campaign and Police reform meet face to face at a roundtable.
The event was the July 2018 Lunch Time Reform Seminar on “The Effective Response of the Nigeria Police Force to the Curbing of Crime in Nigeria: The Role of Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)” organised by the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) and the Nigeria Policing Programme (NPP).
The Commissioner of Police, Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Mr Haliru Gwandu, said that the police was committed to reforming the SARS personnel for improved security in the country.
Gwandu, who was represented by an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Fidelis Okafor, said SARS, was a unit set up to counter violent crimes, cultism, robbery and kidnapping.
According to him, the Police authority is working on making SARS more accountable and reliable and that this is yielding results as the Police recovered 43 AK47s and 1 SMG in the first three months of 2018 alone.
He said that in a bid to achieve the reform, the CP had already designed a Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) to establish a friendly SARS that would meet the aspirations of the citizenry.
“Measures are been taken to make federal SARS more accountable, reliable and dependable by lecturing them weekly on the content of the SOP and their responsibilities. The duty of the unit is to curb violent crimes, robbery among others. On no account should SARS engage in handling civil and commercial cases.
“They are not to engage in stop and search except there is a distress call. They must always appear in their uniforms and not be part of VIP convoy, among others. Several trainings have also been carried out for the personnel on human rights and investigation and more is still being done for a better SARS,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the Team Lead, Nigeria Policing Programme (NPP), Mrs. Kemi Okenyodo, said that the programme was supported by UK government to ensure effective service delivery and accountability of police to Nigerians.
She said that the seminar was organised to discuss how to reform the police force, particularly SARS based on researches carried out on the activities and conduct of SARS.
“We are in the age and time when we are talking about community policing and building trust between government, its agencies and the citizens,” Okenyodo said.
On his part, the Acting Director General BPSR, Mr Dasuki Arabi, said that safeguarding a country could not be done only by the police, and that the SARS was set up to assist in achieving that.
He said that in a bid to stall crimes, human rights were being violated.
He noted that there is a public outcry by the citizens to stop this abuse, and that the bureau conducted a research into the police complain mechanisms from October 2017 to February 2018 to identify the challenges of policing and recommendations were made.
On their parts, the trio of Mr. Segun Awosanya of the End-SARS Campiagn, Okey Nwaguma of the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) and Zeal Akaraiwe of the Graeme Blaque, said the nation owed it a duty to ensure the welfare of the Police and that the Police too must be made to be loyal to the citizens and discharge their responsibilities professionally.
Mr Awosaya specifically call for the repealing of the 75-year old Police Act enacted in 1943 and be replaced with modern law that would reflect the realities of the Nigeria state.