I am from Awkuzu, in the Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State. The famous Awkuzu SARS is in my hometown. In fact, the road that passed beside the SARS office leads to my village. If I need to go anywhere from my hometown, I stay at the front of the SARS office to board a vehicle. I’m only stating these so you will know that I am not a JJC when it comes to SARS and their doings in my town.
I will, however, enjoin you not to prepare your mind to hear dark stories about SARS. Nigerians have done enough justice to that so I will avoid repeating the obvious. I am, however, not going to sing their praises because we all know that SARS officials have done a lot of harm to the citizens of this country.
The first time I heard about SARS was from my father. Then he called them “Shoot At Sight” (SAS). To my father, that a criminal has a god father that protects him and bails him out of the police net is because the person has not met SARS. According to him, once SARS arrests a deadly criminal, especially the ones that murder their victims, that person will never be heard from again. Now, my father wasn’t saying these because he loved telling stories; he obviously must have known deadly people that were removed from society by SARS.
My mother still believes that Awkuzu SARS station was located there because of how bad that area was. People that know Awkuzu know that you dare not stop at the popular Awkuzu Junction in the night. To be honest, if your vehicle spoils along the Awkuzu axis of the expressway, you have to drag it, using whatever means possible, out of Awkuzu. Then, the bustling Awkuzu junction empties out around 7pm. If you find yourself in that place from 8pm and decide to board okada, well, you’re on your own. That was how bad my town was in those days.
But then, Awkuzu is cool now. I can come into my town by 10 pm and even walk from the junction, through the road that passes beside SARS office and head for my village. I wouldn’t have dared this before. SARS actually made it possible now. Even students from Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam Campus, avoid issues with SARS. That is why you hardly hear of cult wars in that school. SARS is actually sitting on their necks.
Now, SARS has not been a nursemaid for Awkuzu. They showed us pepper, trust me. Then, parents that have young boys were afraid because their sons may fall into SARS nets. Night live was seriously reduced to the lowest ebb then. SARS usually comes raiding in the night and they pack up boys in beer parlours and places like that. But, to be honest, I have not heard of an innocent person from my kindred, who was arrested by SARS and never returned. The only thing then is that if SARS comes for raiding or wants to arrest suspects, they pick up all the young boys and men within the vicinity and then allow the innocent ones to go later (after they must have bailed themselves out with a huge amount of money). But the main people they came for in those raids/arrests are usually not granted bails, at least not immediately. Our annoyance then was why SARS would pick up both the innocent and the non-innocent and then make money out of the innocents.
The problem I see with SARS is their use of intimidation and brutality. But they are not the only ones that do that; every security agency in this country intimidates and brutalises the masses. Even private security agencies use unnecessary force to execute their authorities.
But let’s look at the ENDSARS campaign that is ongoing for some time now. We know that SARS officials have been accused of several extrajudicial killings. They have been called out for their brutality towards the youths, especially the young men. Evidence is even there to show that they are guilty of these accusations. But is that the reason to scrap it off? Well, I don’t think so.
It will be an utmost lie for someone to say that SARS isn’t working in Nigeria. Their inception is for a reason and I believe they are performing their primary duties. The things that SARS officials do, an ordinary olopa cannot even dream of doing half of them. Scraping SARS off will only ensure a massive return of crimes (not that we don’t have massive crimes anyway). But I fear what will happen if SARS ceases to exist.
Like we all know, there are bad eggs in every profession. Among bankers we have found fraudsters. Rapists have been discovered among teachers. Murderers exist among health practitioners. And people have lost their properties to their family lawyers. But then, do we have to scrap banks, schools, hospitals and courts of law because of the bad eggs that work in them? Of course the answer is “No”. This is why we should channel our energy towards weeding out bad eggs in SARS instead of asking for the special force to be closed down.