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SARS, CORRUPTION AND THE CONFLICT OF CONSCIENCE

Given the general mood of the citizens of our dear country, Nigeria, the only wise option left for the federal government and the Nigeria Police was to disband the Special Anti Robbery Squad, dreadfully known more as SARS in response to the protest against the tactical arm of the police. It may not be the right thing to have been done, but it was the best solution to the cry of the Nigerian people, especially the youths.

Though praising SARS at this time may not win the hearts of many, the fact remains that the tactical outfit has just been used as an escape goat. If the proactive measure was not taken, the Nigerian people (not just the youths) would probably have asked for the removal of President Muhammadu Buhari, IGP Mohammed Adamu or the FSARS commander or all of them. This is because the conducts of SARS over the years have been the result of the kind of leadership offered to Nigerians by those at the helm of affairs.

It is absurd to think that the authorities never knew the modus operandi of the special security outfit until the people cried out loud.

For the avoidance of doubts, let it be stated that dissolving SARS may not yield any positive results to the society as far as the security of lives and properties are concerned in Nigeria. As the nation’s citizen bask in the euphoria of the banning of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, one is reminded of the tales by moonlight story of baboons and monkeys that danced and celebrated when they learnt of the death of the one who used to chase them away from the farmland where they feasted on maize. The animals returned the next year to the same farm but found no maize. It dawned on them that the dead man was the owner of the farm. It is food for thought!

To begin with, members of the outfit are Nigerians with “Nigerian blood” which has been so contaminated with the harmful effects of the cankerworm known as corruption. Nobody gets recruited into SARS as an officer. The procedure is to be recruited into the Nigeria police as a Nigerian, function as an officer before being deployed to specific departments, including SARS. And being posted to a particular sub unit of the police does not mean a permanent stay there. In other words, those officers currently relieved of their functions were men of other departments of the force and sending them now to other sections of the police is a normal routine. The Nigeria Police personnel are he same irrespective of their postings.

As long as our people continue to celebrate corruption and other social misconducts, the country will remain devastated by irresponsible acts of all sorts in the police and other public establishments. We have watched otherwise economically viable organizations like the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited, National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), Nigerian Shipping Line Limited, National Supply Company Limited, Nigerian Airways and others collapse and become failed companies while the Nigerians who managed them and are still earning pensions from them became multi millionaires and owners of housing estates.

The solution to the rot in our society lies in the decision of those in positions of authority to lead by example in matters of integrity, corruption, nepotism, tribalism, well informed leadership style, a review of the reward system, economic value system, mind set “reconstruction” and the general overhaul of our  education industry which is tilted more towards money without skills.

We cannot successfully reform the police without reforming the society that “produced” it. And it is unfair to conclude that the police have not performed well at all. No one should rule out the possibility that many of the people who were in the fore front of the #endSARS protest are criminals who took advantage of it to pay police in their own coins.

Some persons are of the opinion that SARS should have restricted their activities to arresting and prosecuting armed robbers only. How can this be possible and responsible for a police man who is trained, first of all to protect lives and properties against the activities of criminals? When a suspect is accosted by the police, can there be any sense in the officer allowing the criminal to go simply because it is not within his official schedule to deal with such societal threat? Where the outfit seemed to have got it wrong was that when suspected fraudsters were arrested, the proper thing to do would have been to send them to the appropriate section of the Force that is responsible for handling such cases. This, just as other sections who come in contact with armed robbers should take them to SARS for investigations.

The highly placed persons in the society who are quick to induce security men with money in order to oppress the helpless poor in their communities are equally guilty of the perceived shameless operational styles of the police and other security outfits.

Meanwhile, many leaders with responsibility to end corruption in Nigeria are also guilty of the ‘disease’.  For example, how will somebody with pre-requisite knowledge and experience less than what should qualify him to occupy his office or a person whose university project was written for him by another fellow be morally motivated to fight corruption? This is where there is conflict of conscience between our fight against corruption and those saddled with the responsibility to do so.

SEE ALSO: CAMA LAW AND THE INDOLENCE AMONG CHRISTIANS BY OMILO

Therefore, to end corruption, every one of us must be involved in the fight against it by choosing not to partake of it irrespective of the wrong demands of the society to which we belong as Nigerians. The first point to start is the mass mobilization of the people against social vices by the different tiers of government. Failure to do this in time may bring our leaders face-to-face with modified version of Sowore’s’#revolution now’. The success of #endsars is a warning signal that must not be allowed to act as an impetus for future protests.

WRITTEN BY AUGUSTINE OMILO

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