By: Joy Odor/Abuja
I welcome you all to this very important meeting with the Officers in-charge of Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS), and the Anti-Kidnapping Squads across the 36 States of the Federal and the FCT. It has become imperative to have this interactive session with you because of the need to address concerns on the rising rate of armed robberies, kidnappings, banditry and other violent crimes in the country. Consequently, I summoned this meeting to:
- Jointly review these security challenges with you,
- Engage you on challenges that may be inhibiting your maximum performances on the field, and,
iii. Review the existing security strategies and evolve new architecture towards addressing the challenges.
- For the avoidance of doubt, it is our sole responsibility as the lead internal security agency to make the country safe for all citizens, and this is your purview as field officers directly charged with the mandate of addressing the threat of kidnapping and armed robbery. Your performance, sense of commitment to duty, and professional competence in this instance remain critical to the ability of the Police to prevent or optimally respond to these crimes.
- Within this context, we must also address issues touching on the abuse of powers, misuse of firearms and other extra-judicial actions by personnel in your Units. Let me re-emphasise here, once again, that our primary responsibility is to protect the lives and property of the citizens we were engaged to serve. This is a sacred duty and no level of justification should underscore our being engaged in any act that negates this responsibility. Indeed, these unprofessional actions have led to lack of confidence and trust in the Police, and this impact on our crime prevention capacity.
- Consequently, as I charge you to rededicate yourselves to your duties by taking the war against violent criminals to their door steps, I also strongly warn you all that this must be done within the ambit of the law and acceptable professional ethics.
- Again, let me sound a note of warning here as I have done in various fora, that any officer that is involved in extra-judicial killing and abuse of power will be held accountable for his action and risks losing his job and facing criminal prosecution. Furthermore, you as the line supervisors of such erring officers shall be held vicariously liable for supervisory negligence be similarly sanctioned.
- I must commend you for your courage and for the sacrifice most of you make in the fight against crimes in the country. I appreciate also that in the performance of your duties, you are faced with some challenges on the field. I encourage you to highlight these challenges in the course of this meeting so that we can deliberate on how to alleviate some of the challenges.
- In order to complement your efforts, we shall soon fully resuscitate, re-organize and expand the operations of the ‘Safer Highway Patrol’ Scheme. This is with intent to enhance visibility policing within the public space and particularly, at vulnerable areas across the country. We are also exploring the concept of Safer City where CCTV technology will be optimally engaged to support our operations. In addition, we are exploring the possibility of establishing a National Crime Analysis Centre which will be engaged in the collation, analysis and dissemination of criminal intelligence to support your operations.
- Finally, I want to seize this opportunity to reassure the good people of this country about the strong resolve of the Police in ensuring the safety of their lives and property. In achieving this, however, we need the support of the citizens, for it is only when we present a common front that we can defeat a common enemy that threatens our communal values.
- Thank you and God bless.