Rights Activist and Lagos based lawyer, Femi Falana has said that Nigeria cannot afford to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) but needs to completely overhaul it. According to Falana, SARS is a legacy of the military government and a partially illegal squad which still operates like they are in a military regime.
He, therefore, stressed the need for armed troops among SARS operators to be removed and the policemen among them re-orientated.
In a recent interview on Channels Television, Falana said:
“You must remove the soldiers in SARS and retrain the police among them. You re-orientate them because they still behave as if they are under military dictatorship because SARS is a legacy of military dictatorship. As it is constituted, it is partly illegal under a civilian and democratic dispensation. Under the constitution, the duty of maintaining internal security, law, and order in Nigeria is vested exclusively in the police.
“SARS is constituted by armed troops, soldiers and police personnel all over the country. Every state government maintains the SARS in the country and these state governments have not bothered to find out what is this body doing in terms of law enforcement, combating armed robbery and performance in terms of respecting the rights of the Nigerian people.
”Stressing the need for SARS to be totally overhauled as against calls by some concerned citizens for the squad to be scrapped. “The Nigerian new colonial state cannot afford to scrap SARS, it is not possible. We have an increasing wave of armed robbery, kidnapping terrorism and other serious violent crimes which the regular police personnel have not been trained to curb or combat, therefore we are going to have SARS but it has to be totally overhauled.”
Falana commended the efforts of Nigerians protesting against SARS saying any demonstration by Nigerian against perceived injustice should be encouraged but the protesters must also be made to appreciate that the law has taken care of all their concerns and fears.
“What we are therefore required to do is to ensure that the laws are enforced which has made it illegal to detain a Nigerian without taking him to the court in a place like Lagos or in the rural areas beyond 48hours,”