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The special anti-robbery squad, (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police was created in late 1992 to deal with crimes associated with robbery, vehicles theft, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and firearms offences. By the early 1990s, armed robbers and bandits were terrorizing Lagos and Southern Nigeria. Police Officer Simeon Danladi Midenda as the head of the anti-robbery unit of the criminal investigation department in Benin, Southern Nigeria was consequently transferred to Lagos and tasked with breaking the stronghold of these armed gangs.

In Lagos, he formed an amalgamated unit and named it the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). SARS main job was to monitor radio communications and facilitate successful arrests of criminals and armed robbers.  In the early days of the unit, its combat-ready Officers operated undercover in plain clothes and unnumbered vehicles without any government insignia and did not carry arms in public. This no doubt, made it successful; it recorded high profile arrests and prosecutions. Of one of such in recent times was the successful arrest of kidnapping kingpin, Chukwudi Onuamadike (Evans) in 2017.

The heroic odyssey of the Nigeria Police Force is in quantum. Truly, some of these might be fading or are not known to many of today’s rancorous youths. In 1985/86, one Lawrence Anini and his gang held the old Bendel State, (today’s Edo and Delta) at the jugular, robbing and killing with impunity. Anini became invisible in his robberies to an extent, the then, President Ibrahim Babangida breathe a sigh of relief when he was arrested by members of the Police Force. Similarly, the Republic of Benin-Lagos axis came under severe robbery attacks of Shina Rambo for months. Again, it took the heroic efforts of the NPF to put him down. Not too long ago, the nightmares the people of Ikorodu, Lagos State had in the hands of the notorious Badoo boys’ further attest for the need to salute NPF. They killed their victims violently for ritual purposes, smacking on their heads heavy stones and irons. Eventually, its notoriety was curtailed by the NPF. In the North, East and other geopolitical zones of the country, the Police Force still stand shoulder high curtailing criminals that would have been pains to the peoples.

 The overall attitudes of members of the NPF are reflections of the orientations of Nigerians, because recruitments into it are Nigerians. And since criminals are part of the Nigerian Society, the likely hood of it recruiting thugs, criminals and drug addicts into the Police Force is not ruled out.  Today, it will not be a surprise if one comes across an officer who has spent almost a decade without going to even for one-week refresher course training on how to handles weapons. Thus, NPF is prone to widespread extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, extortion and maiming innocent Nigerians. The consequence is the End-SARS protests.

 However, notwithstanding these shortcomings, what the vagabonds that hijacked the peaceful protests exhibited against the Nigeria Police were reflections of their core values, which to all intent and purposes reflect deep-rooted animosity, criminality, hatred and rebellion against the country. The protesters went berserk unleashing orgy of bedlams, pillaging, stealing and spread anarchy on the lands. By the time the rampaging subsided, sadly, scores of Officers have been killed in cold blood, patrol vehicles torched, over 100 police stations and properties burnt, armoury vandalized and emptied, prisoners set free, roads and airports blocked. The truth is that the End SARS protest was hijacked by people, who had run afoul of the law and by those whose meanness, are high pitched. These people exploited the freedom to protest as entrenched in the Nigeria constitution and went after the police.

It is here, we salute, the Nigeria Police force. Real heroes die serving the law not resisting it. Many officers lost their lives defending the Laws. Behind the badges you are all adorning on your uniforms are hearts of full of patriotisms for the Nation. You are foremost human, father, mother, husband, wife, brother and sister to someone. The difference between you and the criminals that killed many of you is that you served and died for humanity, and making the supreme sacrifice for your country, Nigeria.

Under naked provocation and life threatened situations, you remained calm and chose to pay the supreme price with your lives than exert lawful force to defend your precious lives. You exercised utmost restraint tolerance, imperturbable equanimity and serene bonhomie disposition, as a swivel to unite the country.  We are thankful and we salute you.

By – Abdulfattah Abdussalam 

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As-salam Alaekum Waramatullah, Wabarakathu

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