BY EVELYN DADU, ABUJA – Former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sir Mike Okiro (retd.) has said that he was saddened with the fact that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Unit of the Nigeria Police completely deviated from its primary responsibility.
Okiro, was one of the founding commanders of SARS however said that in all of these, the reality of the matter remains that the country still needs to be protected by the police which has the constitutional responsibility to protect lives and properties.
The former IGP specifically said that Nigerians cannot afford to surrender the country to criminals because of the misbehaviour of the men of SARS.
Sir Okiri told PEOPLE’S SECURITY MONITOR, a Radio Programme that focuses on Security, that the disbanded squad in his days, was more effective and ethically compliant so much that it chased out virtually all armed robbers in Lagos including one of the most notorious by name Shina Rambo, adding that the deviant ones among the outfit then were properly dealt with.
He said that the police high command at the time, subjected all men of SARS to rigourious training to the extent that they were taken to the Nigerian Army barracks at Alamala, Abeokuta to be trained by soldiers.
According to Okiro; “From the beginning, they had been trained to face all the weathers and circumstances. But, I’m pained that all these productive anti-robbery measures applied during our days had been thrown to the wind.
“There was a day I ran into SARS men who were in mufti attires with their guns, and this infuriated me so much that I had to call the then Inspector General of Police to call his boys to order, because how does one differentiate between armed robbers and genuine SARS men if not by way of kitting appropriately for proper identification.
“But in all of these, the reality of the matter is that we still need to protect our country, and it is the constitutional responsibility of the police to protect lives and properties. We cannot surrender our country to criminals because of the misbehaviour of men of SARS.
“Thank God the IG has yielded to the people’s calls to disband SARS, and I am pretty sure he is already working on a more better method to combat armed robbery incidents across the country.
“It’s just inevitable that protection of lives and properties is so cardinal to the police, even the protesters must be protected by the same police they complain about,” he said.
Okiro called for understanding of all Nigerians, adding that he is optimistic that the police authority is working round the clock to effect all the changes desirable for the people and Nigeria in general.
The full interview with former IGP Mike Okiro by PEOPLE’S SECURITY MONITOR will be aired on 104.5 Crowther Love FM Radio Station, Abuja on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 11am.