Femi Falana, outspoken human rights lawyer, says although the efforts of anti-Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) protesters are commendable, the Nigerian state cannot afford to scrap the squad.
Speaking on Tuesday while appearing on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’, Falana, however, also said the department should be “totally overhauled”, as its current composition is unconstitutional in a civilian government.
“The Nigerian new colonial state cannot afford to scrap SARS; it is not possible,” he said.
“We have an increasing wave of armed robbery, kidnapping terrorism and other serious violent crimes which the regular police personnel have not been trained to curb or combat. Therefore, we are going to have SARS but it has to be totally overhauled.
“With due respect to those protesting against SARS and calling for its proscription, while their efforts are commendable, they must be made to appreciate the fact that the law has taken care of all their concerns.
“What we are therefore required to do is to ensure that the laws are enforced which has made it illegal to detain a Nigerian without taking him to the court in a place like Lagos or in the rural areas beyond 48 hours.”
He described SARS as a legacy of the several military regimes that had truncated the country’s democracy in the past.
“You must remove the soldiers in SARS and retrain the Police among them. You re-orientate them because they still behave as if they are under military dictatorship, because SARS is a legacy of military dictatorship,” he added.
“As it is constituted, it is partly illegal under a civilian and democratic dispensation. Under the constitution, the duty of maintaining internal security, law and order in Nigeria is vested exclusively in the Police.
“SARS is constituted by armed troops, soldiers and police personnel all over the country. Every state government maintains the SARS in the country and these state governments have not bothered to find out what this body is doing in terms of law enforcement, combating armed robbery and performance in terms of respecting the rights of the Nigerian people.”