RIVERS State governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared that Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is being prepared by the authorities for the rigging of the 2019 general elections.
Governor Wike stated that the so-called review of the operations of SARS, following the outcry by Nigerians over the alleged illegal acts of the organisation, is merely aimed at diverting public focus.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by the Board of Editors of Sun Publishing Limited at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on Tuesday, Governor Wike described SARS as a gang of criminals, leading Nigeria to disaster.
He said: “SARS is being prepared for the rigging of elections in 2019. Time has come for people to resist these criminals in uniform because they cannot kill everyone.
“SARS has not helped in Rivers State. Rather, they perpetrate criminal activities. With the sustained activities of SARS, Nigeria is heading for disaster.”
He pointed out that when Rivers State government alerted the nation on the criminal activities of SARS across the state, the authorities disregarded the evidence presented.
Governor Wike added that the same thing happened when the Inspector General of Police deliberately withdrew his security details to give the APC an advantage.
He said: “When the Inspector General of Police (IGP) took his impunity to Anambra State and withdrew the security details of the governor, the Senate quickly intervened because they knew that the acts of lawlessness of the IGP was getting close.”
Reacting to Governor Wike’s allegation against SARS, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), CSP Jimoh Mosshnnd, debunked the allegation, saying that there was nothing like that.
The FPRO advised politicians to stop inciting members of the public against SARS, which is currently reorganised as directed by the IG.
He pointed out that by the statement credited to the Rivers State governor on the alleged plan to use the operatives of the unit to rig 2019 general elections, it was coming to the open that some politicians “are having some ulterior motives against the unit and the Nigeria Police Force generally.”
He, however, assured the public that the police would continue to perform their roles according to the constitution without fear or favour despite all odds.
In another development, the Senate, on Tuesday, mandated its ad hoc committee on security to investigate allegations of human rights abuses against SARS of the Nigeria Police.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the move was sequel to a point-of-order raised by Senator Isa Misau during plenary.
Misau said under the Police Act and regulation, the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (Force CID) was the highest investigative arm of the Nigerian Police.
“For effective and efficient administration, the department is divided into 14 sections for which the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is one of them.
“The squad is supposed to be a section in each state command, with sole responsibility of handling armed robbery cases and answerable to the commissioner of police.
“I have, in the last few months, received petitions from my constituency, both online and physically, against SARS on violence from extrajudicial killings, brutality, torture, arrest, bribery and other conduct by the men of the unit,” he said.
The lawmaker said findings had shown that the incidents were not isolated, as many people had been sharing their experiences on social media.
“It is dangerous for us to have a unit of the police force to act as if it is above the law and empowered to so behave,” Misau said.
He urged his colleagues to take a decision to make way for a more civilised unit that would be built around the rule of law and human rights observance.
The motion was seconded by Senator Dino Melaye.
In his remarks, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, said it was appropriate for the matter to be sent to the committee for consideration.
“It is clear that something wrong is going on and needs urgent attention. It is happening in all our constituents, and we must be seen to be responsive to some of these needs,” Saraki said.
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