#EndSARS, the widespread campaign for the shutting down of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), over complaints that the department has allegedly become a cluster of criminals in uniform, gained momentum over the weekend, and the police reacted on Sunday.
Nigerians, at the weekend, took to social media, to recount cases and ugly experiences of extra-judicial killings, torture, wanton arrests for bribes and other menacing conducts by SARS.
The coordinators of #EndSARS want the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari to scrap the controversial squad.
They argue that the department, which was launched in early 2000s to combat armed robbery and other criminal activities, has become too contaminated to be reformed.
But reacting on Twitter, Assistant police spokesman, Aliyu Giwa, said it is “disheartening seeing some officers acting uncivilised and unruly. I sympathise with Nigerians who must have found themselves in such situations and believe me the authority is not happy about it! Trust me the authority have (sic) taken actions on this issue”
In a follow up tweet, Giwa said the part of what the police was doing to address the issue was distribution of contact flyers.
Police Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, also told TheCable that majority of those calling dor the scrapping of SARS could be armed robbers.
His words: “As we speak, SARS is doing fantastically well across the country in reducing incidents of robbery to the barest minimum… they are doing very, very well.
“There has not been any specific violation of human rights against any SARS personnel. So anybody that is spreading such a rumour is not doing the nation any good.
“SARS has no excesses and when there is any, we do investigate.
“The call for SARS to be scrapped should be condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians. Anybody calling for their proscription is not doing the nation any good and such people should be suspected as having something to hide.
He added that the police does not permit the violation of human rights by its men, and the ones who do so are apprehended.
Scores of Nigerians narrated their ordeals after encountering SARS personnel in different parts of the country.
The complaints have ranged from how officers waylaid citizens at ATM points to how they often threatened to kill and vowing they would get away with it.
There were specific claims of how SARS officers allegedly murdered citizens for declining to pay bribes or tortured citizens.
But Moshood said: “We do not take any infraction or violation of human right of any Nigerian likely. You know that so many police officers have been dismissed and even charged to court.
“So, Nigerians should not give in to insinuations from people that just come to the social media and start spreading falsehood. Such people spreading such information may likely be armed robbers themselves.
“There are laid down rules for police procedures and any police officer that go beyond boundary to do something outrageous which is against the law is apprehended”