The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, has noted the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to order the scrapping of the much-maligned Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), and the reorganization and investigations into excesses of the outfit.
NEF said SARS was one of the serious shortfalls in our policing and security. In a statement signed by NEF’s spokesperson, Drm Hakeem Baba Ahmad, the Forum noted that this decision to scrap SARS should be placed in the context of the huge demands that had been made for the President to address serious shortfalls in our policing and security institutions.
There have been many cases of abuse that ought to have been checked by this and earlier administrations, but were ignored or treated with levity owing to very low levels of respect for accountability. It is a sad commentary on the manner this administration approaches sensitive matters such as security of citizens that it had to be forced into taking this decision after serious damage to the integrity and credibility of our policing and security institutions.
The Forum reminded President Buhari that hundreds of thousands of people in Northern communities have been at the mercy of bandits, kidnappers and rustlers without any form of police protection.
It is clear that many things are seriously wrong with our policing and security institutions, if the same institutions will be accused of extra-judicial acts by some citizens and virtual non-existence by other citizens.
It is not acceptable that thousands of our fellow citizens in the North will be virtually abandoned to armed criminals and a vicious insurgency, and the Nigeria police will get a slap on the wrist for acts that go against the core of its mandate in other areas of its responsibility.
The Forum demands that the spirit deployed against SARS should be visited on policing and securing the North. We further demand a complete overhaul of our policing and security agencies, starting with the removal of Service Chiefs and the involvement of responsible opinion in initiatives that will address the manner the nation is designed to be policed and secured.
We appeal to fellow Nigerians to show the highest levels of restraint and maturity in the manner we organize the defence of our rights. Under no circumstances should we encourage acts that increase our exposure to crime, lawlessness and insecurity.