Mike Okiro, EX-Inspector General of Police, (2007-2009) in an interview with Daily Trust, Narrates How and why they Created SARS and why they did so.
“SARS started with me as the Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations in Ikeja, Lagos, when the infamous armed robber called Shina Rambo was having a field day in 1991. His modus operandi was to snatch cars and begin a shooting spree in a convoy of gunmen. He was so brazen that he even shot at policemen at checkpoints. There was no way to stop him. So, I and the then commissioner, Ademola, came up with the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.”
“The idea was that they would be in mufti, and armed, simply for the very important element of surprise. They would take cover, and communicating with walkie-talkies, hit the armed robbers. They did that two or three times, and the robbery attacks went down, drastically, and at a point stopped altogether. Soon SARS started spreading, from Lagos to other states. And I began to notice that at every roadblock, you will see armed policemen, but in mufti. Now, how do you differentiate between a policeman and an armed robber?”
“The initial idea of the operatives wearing mufti, like I said, is for the element of surprise. So I’d say the original idea of SARS has been bastardised. The squad was feared before, and I mean by criminals. When there was a robbery in a bank, SARS would move there because they were trained. They also knew themselves because there was nothing like cross-firing. Every command had SARS standing by. “
“But by the time it spread to other states, it seemed like anyone would be carrying arms, dressed in mufti, with a T-shirt with SARS emblazoned on it. Anybody can wear such an outfit. They even go into cases of bounced cheques and shady business transactions. SARS business is not to investigate, but to hit. It’s a Special Anti-Robbery Squad, not an investigative one. “
“We cannot End SARS. It cannot be scrapped, rather there is the need to get back to its original concept, to hit robbers and come back. Sometimes robbers take position, waiting for police patrol vehicles to come, not knowing that SARS are passing in a private vehicle.”
“SARS needs to be restructured and not scrapped completely. The police is meant to fight crime, they should be allowed to do their jobs in the most effective way. If they are deviating from the concept, they should be called back on the right track. Ending SARS is like the police stopping their fight against robbers.”