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The debate to end SARS

It would appear that the road to public office is paved with good intentions. The highway of public performance is paved with disappointments. Every IG I’ve come to know comes with the intention of beating all the others before them. Believe me, public officials bother about the verdict of history. They all want to be remembered as good people, in their lifetime as well as in their death. Kayode Uanreroro may not have a street named after him, but he was what crack officers would like to be. He caught the notorious Lawrence Nomanyagbon Anini.

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Tafa Balogun stole the idea of introducing Crime Fighters and the mantra, To Serve and Protect with Integrity. The courts were not called to investigate why the son of pen robbers never featured in Crime Fighters, but asked to evaluate his quest to serve, they seemed unanimous in agreement that he lacked integrity. You can’t give what you don’t have and at the top of your game, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

So, each IG strives to be on the brightest side of history, knowing that to pass the test of history, you must be in good reckoning today. One trademark of every IG is the scrapping of all checkpoints. They often do the announcement with finality ordering all unit commanders and commissioners to ensure that the order is obeyed without complaint. Usually within days, they eat their own words. Once it dawns on them that ‘’normal’ policing does not seem to guarantee the security of all and sundry, they usually withdraw their command. 

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The current IG went a step further. He conducted a headcount and realized that virtually half of his men have abandoned their primary duties to work as guards, bag carriers, armed thugs, house-helps, escorts and sundry duties. If you ask sinnator Misau, most of them bribed their way into these lucrative duties to escape the drudgery and penury associated with desk jobs. In case you are inclined to believe that; be informed that no IG, AIG, DIG or commissioner is aware of this. None has ever shared in the proceeds from such offhand deals, ever. In fact, I’ll bet it usually takes a high command appointment for them to know that checkpoints are traditional roger centres. So, in the case of IG Idris, not only did he sack checkpoints, he withdrew VIP servants until strident protests from the privileged class forced him to rescind his decision, like his predecessors.   

If you’re not allergic to Naija potholes, you know why they say that if you loathe the police, next time you’re in trouble, call the thug. As anyone knows, it is easier to settle an Area Boy than it is to choose between a police checkpoint and an armed robbery barrier. Some say the difference is Coke. Roger an officer and move or face the guys for whom the ban on codeine or the prohibition of marijuana means as little as the wasting of human life. 

We live in a country where robbers write entire neighbourhoods in advance of their visit, then advise against alerting the police. Very often, they carry out their threats without resistance. Of course, there are always exceptions and exemplary officers whose conscience have not been sold to Naira.

In developed societies, you’ll never see officers being‘escorted’ everywhere. Please pardon the oxymoron. There’s an emergency number that works to protect everyone no matter how high or low. On most public transits, you’ll bump into famous and notorious politicians, top military and paramilitary officers who drive themselves to and from work daily. They are extra careful not to soil the dignity of their uniforms and their character as officers and gentlemen and women. Step on their polished shoes deliberately and they’re quick to say sorry! Cut through them in traffic and they’ll not even wave a finger in anger. Those codes of conduct are unknown to Naija big men, and women.   

Given these backgrounds, only troublemakers, social media influencers, trade union leaders and enjiowo, NGO people want to end SARS. We’re talking of a country where Ibrahim Danjuma, who reportedly ordered the shooting of the famous Apo 6, and was indicted by a presidential panel, gets reinstated, paid twelve years salary arrears and then promoted AIG. 

One of the ringleaders of the Offa robbery is an ex-SARS. In Uyo, a victim’s dexterity in social media use with a concealed phone helped him escape police brutality two weeks ago. An officer threatened to‘waste’him. Two female PPRO’s warned against being tagged on #EndSARS – their official Twitter handle carry their personal profile pictures making their office and their person one. Anyone who has had the fortune of being detained, for real or imagined reasons know the life and death power that the Naija police have on victims. So insecure is our president, our governors etc that they need armed, uniformed guards behind them at public functions. You can’t end SARS in a land of impunity.

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