EVERYTHING possible must be done to avoid bringing politics into #ENDSARS, the campaign by some social activists to have the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Nigeria Police scrapped.
The campaign, which took off in the social media made a worrisome landfall in the streets of some cities such as Abuja, Awka in Anambra, and Port Harcourt in Rivers State at the beginning of last week.
In Abuja and Port Harcourt in particular, some groups also came out in support of the retention of the Squad created to confront violent crimes, but which protesters and many members of the public accuse of corruption, extortion, extra-judicial killings, robberies and torture of citizens.
In fact, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in September this year shocked Nigerians when he accused some SARS operatives of involvement in kidnapping in the State. He also alleged that the Squad was being positioned to rig elections in 2019.
It was probably as a result of this that in Rivers State the #ENDSARS protests were championed by a pro-Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, group, the Grassroots Development Initiative, GDI, which called for the sack and prosecution of the SARS Commander in the state, Akin Fakorede. Their action was countermanded by a pro-All Progressives Congress, APC, group, the Free Rivers Development Initiative, FRDI, which insisted that SARS must stay.
Also in Abuja, another group which did not seem obviously political, the Concerned Men and Women Association of Nigeria, CMWAN, came out in defence of SARS, insisting that scrapping it would not be in the interest of Nigerians. In an earlier editorial, we had argued that ending SARS would amount to throwing the baby away with the bath water.
We also agree with the CMWAN that the protests should only serve the purpose of drawing the attention of not just the Police authorities but also the Federal Government to end the impunities, corruption, human rights abuses and lawlessness which some bad eggs in the Squad have been perpetrating with reckless abandon.
We call on the National Assembly which has already waded into the matter to take serious measures in this direction, rather than leaving the matter at the hands of the Police authorities alone.
The Police have a way of making motions without movement when public outcries rise against the misconducts of their officers and men. Things are allowed to return to the situations complained about as soon as the uproar dies down.
This should an opportunity to reposition SARS to commit strictly to its core mandates in line with global best practices. The National Assembly and the Presidency must work together to achieve this. Politicising the #ENDSARS campaign will do no one any good. Neither would the scrapping of SARS.