Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, has alleged that Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, is behind the ongoing campaign to scrap the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force.
The governor has levelled several acts of misconducts against the unit and thrown his support behind the ongoing #EndSARS campaign against the unit.
While speaking on the sidelines of Friends of Gulf of Guinea Conference, Peterside said the Rivers governor is merely disgruntled with the unit because he cannot influence officers to do his bidding.
He argued that Rivers State is a great beneficiary of the police unit because of its high crime rate and should continue to operate.
He said, “Rivers State is number one in high profile crimes of murder, kidnapping and robbery and the state government may have become uncomfortable because of its inability to influence and control the police.
“Some people are obviously benefiting from the criminal activities that SARS officers stand against. I support the good work of SARS and I wish the agency could be re-organized and strengthened to function better.
“It’s a campaign championed by Governor Wike. In every society, without the police there can be no law and order and consistently for the past 18 months, Rivers State has occupied number one position in the area of violent crimes.
“Recently a lady lawyer, Mary Obe was killed because she was pursuing a case on those who killed her brother. Her brother, Edwin Obe was killed earlier in Eleme part of Rivers State.
“I believe nobody will deny the fact that SARS has been very potent in tackling crimes in Rivers State. They have reduced the crime rate and given confidence to the people.”
In a coordinated #EndSARS rally that took place in cities like Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Warri, Ibadan, Akwa, Makurdi, Jos, Kaduna and Owerri, on Monday, December 11, 2017, hundreds of Nigerians took to the streets to protest against the alleged brutality of the unit, and asked the government to scrap it.
Counter-protesters were also out in full force on Monday in major cities such as Port Harcourt, Lagos, and Abuja, marching in support of reforming the unit and keeping it to continue to fight crimes.
Before the protests on Monday, the wave of social media outrage against SARS resulted in the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, ordering for a reorganisation of the unit on Monday, December 4.
Under the new reform, state Commissioners of Police are now the overall heads of the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad nationwide, meaning the unit now operates in the State and Zonal Commands with immediate effect.
The IGP also ordered for all SARS personnel nationwide to undergo a new training program to be organized in collaboration with some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Local and International NGOs, and other Human Rights Organizations.
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Wike calls SARS ‘criminals’
While speaking on Channels Television on Friday, December 8, Wike alleged that rather than protecting lives and properties, the police unit has been used to serve political and personal agendas.
He said, “I was the one who said the operatives you have in the state are not protecting lives and property. The Head of SARS in Rivers State, whom I knew very well, cannot help the security architecture of the state.
“I have also said these operatives here have a different agenda which is not for them to protect lives and property but to be part of the election process.
“Instead of protecting lives and property, they’re even part of committing criminal activities.”
He also expressed his low confidence in the ordered reorganisation from the office of the IGP.
He said, “I don’t believe in the so-called review, I don’t believe in the so-called restructuring because there’s nothing that’ll come out of it.”