Yes. Yes. And yes.

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding” – Albert Einstein

For a while now, the Republic of Social Media has gone gaga with the #ENDSARS trend. The green field of WhatsApp has been littered with its broadcast. The blue sea of Facebook hasn’t lulled from its tempest. The blue sky of Twitter has been blowing its wind back and forth. Your Honour, the question begging for answer is that should this loud voice calling for the end of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad be answered? While my co-counsel has come to give good reasons why SARS should continue to operate, I have come with better reasons to say it should not.

For the records, SARS is one of the 14 units under the Nigeria Police Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID). Its operations include to arrest, investigate and prosecute suspected armed robbers, murderers, kidnappers, hired assassins and others involved in violent crimes. Your Honour, please let’s be reminded that SARS job is to arrest not molest; to investigate not instigate; to prosecute not persecute. However, rather than the former, the latter is the badge SARS men carry. This was the case of the multiple award winning singer and actor, Folarin Falana popularly called Falz, in a report by Daily Post on December 9, 2017. Your Honour, that’s one out of many. If we don’t end SARS, SARS may end us.

Now, before I’m accused of citing a single incidence and so my argument cannot hold air talk more water. Today, I have not come to paint the pictures of horrible scenes that have been displayed by SARS operatives – they are too obvious to say the least. If you’ve ever been stopped to be quizzed by SARS operatives, you certainly are in for heartrending torture and mouth opening molestation. Today, I have not only come to advocate for the end of SARS, I have also come to advocate for the reformation of the Police Force.

Moving on, we need to end SARS. A strong Police Force is all we need not trigger happy SARS operatives. The reason crime rate is on the rise is not because there are no laws. Far from it. It is because law enforcement agencies like the Police Force is weak. And it will interest you to know that the Nigerian Police was ranked as the institution viewed as the most corrupt in Nigeria, according to a survey done at Ahmadu Bello University on September 28, 2007. Your Honour, there is a White Paper, called the Police Reform Bill, with 79 recommendations for improving the police force, in the National Assembly; I recommend we scrap SARS and adopt the recommendations therein.

Also, in September 2016, Amnesty International (AI), following a widespread of complaints by citizens, published a report accusing the Squad of subjecting its detainees to horrific torture in form of ‘hangings’, beatings, shootings, mock executions and extortions. I mean, the Squad can be as brutal as that. A Squad that has no regard for rule of law, a Squad that see no wrong in wronging human rights, a Squad in whose hands the lives of the citizens is not safe does not worth breathing the oxygen of continuous existence. Let us block the nostrils of such Squad; so that it can suffocate and die. Your Honour, we need to put an end to SARS before it put an end to us!

By and large, the Nigerian Police Force is not only understaffed, it is underpaid. Currently, the staff strength of the Force is about 371, 800 (Source: nfp.gov.ng). Police officers are paid as little as $40 (£26) a month. By reforming the Police Force, we are one step away from securing the fate of the security of the citizenry. We can do this by, establishing a reliable system for the public to complain about the Police, ensuring better educated Recruits attain a certain level of qualification before being considered, ensuring job applications are transparently managed. The Police are in dire need of an up-to-date communication network, and the police should be given better investigating tools and the training to use them. We need not expend our resources on one unit of the Force when we can easily reform the entire Force and achieve ground-breaking security reformation in the land. I bow out.

NO, WHY SO?

When the guilty suffers, the innocent shall taste – ANON

In life, three things are certain; growth, death and commission of crimes. Human beings are naturally inclined to go against the law, sin against the lord, and engage in all other odds. It is in essence of disobeying the law via the commission of extreme criminalities that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad was created by the police force. It was created to prevent the occurrences of harsh realities. So, my lords, the end of SARS is a floodgate of crimes.

First of all, the importance of the work SARS is saddled with cannot be overemphasized. It is because of the nature of this work that SARS involves specially trained police officers and not just ordinary officers. SARS is a rigid body that goes out in search of criminal activities and always have eyes for other things related. In past times, SARS has apprehended armed criminals that may not have been caught on a normal day. On September 24, 2017, SARS of Benue State was reported to have burst a criminal gang and recovered assorted weapons and other items. On September 28, 2017, SARS of Rivers State recovered a stolen vehicle and arrested the thief. These and many more are the things SARS has done in protection of the society. So, firstly my lords, SARS is important.

Secondly, it is trite knowledge that people only talk when they are directly affected. Not for the sake of all, but for that of a select few. So, who are those campaigning against SARS? My lords, it would interest you to know that those who mainly want SARS to end are youths who feel they have been affected in one way or the other. Or maybe not, maybe they have actually been hindered in one way or the other. How do we know this? It has been established by Amaka Maureen in her Journal of Arts and Contemporary Society of University of Jos that most Nigerian youths are actively involved with their cell phones and tablets, which – my lords – are the instruments of Social media. We then begin to wonder, why youths? Why not those in their 50s? Why not the old? But just like a well of 1ft depth, the answer is not far-fetched. It all boils down to the fact that people only whisper, when there is something to hear. They only hide when there is something to see.

It is no doubt that Nigerian youth of nowadays no longer want hard work but a soft one. Hence, the prevalence of internet fraud. Saturday Magazine had already published an article on the prevalence of internet fraud among youths in January, 2017. Thus, there is need for the police force to look into a place where criminal tendencies are, and it even becomes more important when a boy of roughly about 10 years wants to tcha tche (engage in internet fraud). So, when Police performs its job via SARS and some innocent get affected, the Police has no fault for they are only performing their job. After all, it has been said that when the guilty eat from the food of punishment, the innocent will have a taste. So, if innocent youths feel challenged, they should start with the campaign against internet fraudsters, and not those checkmating them.

In addition, without administering a careful look on the matter at hand, one would have thought Nigerian youths are so patriotic. So much so, that they should even get a medal for it. However, it is clear as daylight that when matters of national importance set in, you do not found them in limelight, which is even if they are in the light at all. All they do is hash tag this, hash tag that. Moreover, since it has been established that the importance of SARS cannot be watered down by a number of hash tags or more precisely, trash tags, then we see that SARS cannot be ended, as it has already become a part of our existence. So, if you end SARS, and come up with some other squad with a 4 letter word acronym; you would still be having a SARS, just in a different form, and uniform.

In conclusion my lords, since there is no much gain for us in ending SARS like a coup d’etat against a regime, then we should look inward with our hash tags. Instead of End SARS; why not ReformSARS. Instead of EndSARS; why not NOtoInternetFraud. We can be useful, while being youthful.

CONCLUSION: This column is about you; it presents the two sides of a case courtesy of two writers from different schools of thought. “Audi alteram partem” means hear the other side before passing your judgment. Take the gavel, make your decision and slam because you are the Judge in this courtroom. You can vote for the scribe whose argument you adJudge better by using the poll option on our website.
SHOULD THE CALL TO END SARS BE ANSWERED?
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Should SARS be stopped?