BY: Chief Ifere Paul, Abuja
In China, all first class graduates earns automatic enlistment into the Chinese Police. The reason you have the Chinese police as one of the world most educated police force in the world and with less brutality in regards with the number of civilian population it polices. It is believed that the Chinese Police ought to be a brute force because it polices the world largest population.
To end police brutality, it is important to introduce into the Nigerian Police Force, individuals with sound character and brilliant minds.
Such Units like the SARS should be a prestigious and elite unit that should incorporate only certain individuals that have attained a certain level of educational growth, passed certain mandatory courses in the police force, and also distinguished themselves in the discharge of their duties in different operational assignments. This must also include a certain level of international exposure in terms of peace keeping, police training abroad or both.
Over the last decade, the SARS has been overtaken by miscreants and finger happy illiterates, who show a high dislike for calmed, well dressed, and educated civilians. SARS personnel are biased to good looking, and young intelligent people with a pouch car, especially, a branded Jeep.
SARS in itself is not a bad idea. Brutality and extra judicial killings by its officers calls for concern. Ending SARS in itself cannot cure brutality in the Nigerian Police Force. The Police Force must be willing to embrace a holistic approach to reforms.
The police force must be willing to condition its officers to operate within a certain parameter, and or regulations.
Ending SARS will not solve the problems of police brutality and extra judicial killings. Ending SARS is not the same as sacking the entire SARS personnel. It is only the scrapping of the unit. Personnel in this Unit will be redeployed to other units the moment SARS is scrapped.
Redeploying some of these elements to other units is to restart a new cycle of the same events in these new units.
So, what Nigerians should rather be asking for is the need for the Inspector General of Police to as a matter of urgency, remove some of the personnel, especially, those who may have had petitions against them from the SARS Units. It is also important to send some of these officers for peacekeeping operations were there are retrained to engage with civilian population. Our SARS doesn’t seems to have received trainings in dealing with civilians.
There is need to consistently fashion out models for continuous assessment and reassessment of all personnel in all SARS formations.
Police Community Relations officers should be established in all towns and villages to supervise activities of police units or formations posted to those areas.
Ambassadors of other countries in Nigeria or their representatives should be mandatory members of Community Relation Officers of the Nigeria Police Force.
In Sweden, ambassadors of all the embassies in Sweden are automatic members of the Police Community Relations and other taskforce of the Swedish Police. This way, the issue of racial discrimination or xenophobia from police officers against non nationals is completely checked and controlled. These allow for transparency in civilian policing.
The Nigerian Police Force should endeavor to finance all its units and formation across the country. This will increase professionalism in the force as against toll collectors that engages civilians with brute force, and sometimes, extra judicial killings for issues bordering on 50 Naira.
I have had my own portion of experience with SARS when I was arrested on the orders of the Governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade.
On the 7th of January last year, while returning to Abuja, along Obolafor-Nsuka axis, I was asked to park my jeep, I parked, I was searched, the car was searched and found clean. I was asked to pay 1k, and when I asked for what? I was slapped and kicked like football. Even though I made sure the officer was punished, that afternoon, occupant of another vehicle were caught with arms and drugs going for a certain election.
I have respect for SARS, but their method of operations need to be rebranded. The officers needs training in civilian policing.
Above all, the Police Service Commission must be allowed to do it work by punishing defaulting personnel.
We need SARS. But we need a rebranded SARS with the financial muscles to finance its operations in all formation.
Chief Ifere Paul writes from Abuja.