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SARS Killing: Looking At The Ills And Why The Killings May Not Stop Now - Article

Nigerians have again called on the federal government of Nigeria to ban the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS). This is due to the recent death of a youth that was shot dead while watching football at a viewing center in Lagos.

In an article by Mr. Patrick Okunmina a security personnel weighs in the option of banning the squad and what the city needs to know...

Obviously, No! If SARS is disbanded today, the members of the SARS team will continue with the killing in whatever role they find themselves in the future.

Calling for an end to SARS is a good start, but that does not solve the problem. Nigerians should instead, call for a complete overhaul of all the security forces, including military and para-military.

This overhaul should include: re-orientating the men, retraining them, especially with respect to arms handling and meting out appropriate punishment for offenders.

A little explanation:

1. Reorientation - The security personnel should be made to understand what their primary responsibility is - to protect lives and properties. You'll be shocked to learn that most of them do not know. They should be taught that no matter the circumstance, you do not draw your weapon, or point your rifle at someone you're supposed to protect.

One of the commandments given to us at the military training school, "Do not point your rifle at a friend (unarmed person)." We were told then that it was a dismissal offence to point our weapons at someone who is not armed and a threat to us, let alone pull the trigger.

I don't know the kind of message they pass to our security forces at the training school these days, but I think it should be looked into.

2. Training - Our men are not properly trained in handling rifles, especially the para-military (police, immigration, custom, NDLEA, Civil Defense, etc). Each of them you see wielding a rifle is a threat to your life. Hence, you have to be careful when dealing with them. I see lapses every day in respect of this. For instance, We're supposed to point our rifles at a certain angle and to ensure that there's no obstruction, before clearing it. A good number of these uniform guys don't know this. You see them discharge their weapons anyhow and for no reason. The government needs to do something about training.

3. Punishment - I didn't witness this in the service, but was told that in those days, before a shooting exercise commences at the range, two graves are dug. One for the victim and one for the culprit, in the event, that a soldier shoots another dead, deliberately or mistakenly. Same should be enforced. Any law enforcement agent who shoots and kills an innocent person should face judgment, and if found guilty, executed by a firing squad, to serve as a deterrent to others.

4. Accountability - Those days in the military, you give an account of your ammunition. If you're issued 20 rounds, you cannot return and handover 19 rounds to the armorer without explanation. In fact, you'll write a statement explaining how you used the ammo. A detailed investigation will be carried out to ascertain your claims. It should be implemented fully, in all forces.

5. Mental Evaluation - Our security men should be mentally evaluated at the point of entry and periodically while in service. Anyone who fails the test should be discharged immediately. Most people will not agree with me on this, the majority of these guys you see wearing uniforms are not normal. For some, their cognitive and reasoning abilities have been ruined by drugs. They're not different from armed lunatics.

Until these and other measures are implemented, the killings will not stop!

Patrick is a security expert and he writes from Lagos...

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