A cross section of the protesters. Photo: Ifeoma Okafor.
Following the call by some groups to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), more than 2,000 youths on Monday took to the major roads in Awka, Anambra State capital, in a peaceful protest.
The group, under the aegis of Concerned Anambra Citizens and Non-Indigenes, drawn from various parts of the state, converged at the entrance gate of the SARS office in Awkuzu, Oyi Local Government Area of the state.
The protesters displayed placards with various inscriptions which read, “Removal of SARS, an invitation to kidnapping, robbery”, “We want crime-free Christmas and New Year”, “Let SARS be”, etc
Addressing newsmen, the convener, and the Special Assistant to the state Governor on Political Matters, Okafor Emeka, said the protest was embarked on to drive home their demands on the consequences of scrapping the security unit.
While stating that any attempt to scrap SARS would amount to return of all forms of crimes and criminality in the state, he attributed the relative peace existing in the state to the active and aggressive operations of that arm of the police force.
On his part, the Police Community Relations Committee, Chief Francis Ezenwankwo said those calling for the scraping of the unit had selfish and ulterior motives, and called on them to have a rethink.
He however acknowledged that the officials of the unit might have their shortcomings, but insisted that rather than scrap the unit, they should be reformed and repositioned for better service delivery.
His words: “We have a system where erring officers are disciplined, including redeployment, training and retraining to bring out the best from them.”
The Governor’s aide, who later handed over the letter written to the Inspector General of Police by the group to the state Commissioner of Police, Garba Umar, pleaded with the IGP to use his good offices to ensure that SARS remained in the state.
According to him, refusal to heed their call would compel the group to carry the protest to the police headquarters in Abuja.
In his response, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Chris Owolabi, who represented by the Commissioner of Police, commended the group for their peaceful conduct, promising that their message would be delivered appropriately