CP debunks allegation of SARS operation in Rivers state

RIVERS state Commissioner of Police Emeka Nwonyi has debunked an allegation that the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) still operates in the state.

Nwonyi told journalists in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, June 20 that such a thought could only exist in “the minds and imaginations of those who think they can achieve any purpose by virtue of blackmail.”

He asserted that the SARS in Rivers state had remained disbanded since the Inspector-General of Police announced the disbandment of the entire SARS of the Nigeria Police Force.

Nwonyi urged members of the public to ignore reports of SARS operations in the state, adding that officials under the unit were deployed to other formations following the disbandment of the squad.

Former president, Muhammadu Buhari, disbanded SARS in 2020 after thousands of youths took to the streets in protest against police brutality, extortions and killings perpetrated by officials of the unit across the country.

The protest had begun on social media and taken to the streets by angry youths in many parts of the country, including Lagos and Rivers states, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Although the Federal government announced a disbandment of the squad, youths remained on the streets demanding a total reform of the police force, until the protest came to an abrupt end when officials of the Nigerian Army opened fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos.

Though the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Nigerian Army denied the killings, Amnesty International said, at least, 12 people were killed during the shooting.



    However, some residents of Rivers state had raised an alarm recently on social media that policemen suspected to be SARS officials were harassing residents.

    “I thought they had banned SARS in Port Harcourt. They came to my neighbour’s yard and beat him up,” a Twitter user, Keyblinks, posted on Sunday, June 18.

    Nwonyi said he had ordered for investigation on the matter, and monitoring of police officers in the state.

    His reaction came days after the governor of Rivers state, Siminalayi Fubara, warned against SARS operations in the state, urging the Rivers state police command to investigate the allegation by residents.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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