Sir: The Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad has long held Nigerians in a thrall of terror. Scary stories of torture and even extra-judicial killings involving the operatives of the outfit, some gone rogue, have always made the rounds. Again, the country has been rocked by more stories forcing Nigerians to revisit the difficult relationship they have with their security agencies–agencies which keep them safe and are supposed to keep them safe at all times. Now, all over the world, crime fighting and crime prevention are no child’s play. Even the most well-trained and most professional of state agencies in charge of security today stand the risk of being overrun by the cunning innovation and inventiveness that criminals are showing in their bid to remain perversely relevant to the society. Nigeria has historically struggled with crime fighting, crime prevention and law enforcement. It is no news that many laws in Nigeria are obeyed only in breach. This has made for a society where a select few perversely privileged operate above the law. Thus each time a state agency intervenes for security reasons, fiery suspicions arise. This has further complicated the security situation in Nigeria.A relationship that is supposed to be mutually beneficial between state security agencies and willing citizens because information is safely and easily shared is non- existent.
The causes of this are many. But atop the pile sits the ugly spectre of abuse of power. Nigerian public office holders grow so strong and so unaccountable that they bend security agencies who are supposed to be subservient only to the Nigerian people to their personal will. Their caprices often running wild and unchecked in most cases become the drumbeats to which these security agencies dance. Another cause is poor funding. Quality that comes cheap is anything but. Nigeria`s security agencies are mostly poorly trained and poorly remunerated.
These ensure that they are mostly left in no man`s land of poor skills and poor motivation. Then there is the ghost of monumental corruption. Corruption has haunted every Nigerian nightmare and daydream since independence in 1960.Wherever one turns in Nigeria, corruption stands fully garbed and armed, wreaking havoc on men and matters. It has no doubt crept upon Nigeria`s security agencies too. Without proper mechanisms put in place to ensure that each man in the security agencies is made to properly account for his actions and inactions, a lot of cracks have appeared through which the entire security apparatus of a country is about to fall.
The frustrations with the F-SARS and by extension all other security agencies are well understandable. They evoke fear even in those Nigerians who ordinarily should have nothing to fear. Their tactics and methods often hark back to the Inquisition. Those Nigerians who have fallen foul of their methods and theatrics in the past recount stories of brutal torture. The unfortunate ones are left with neither life nor tale to tell. Reforms have been promised. But the road ahead is long. Removing bad eggs is easy when those eggs are few. When they are many and everywhere, an otherwise easy task becomes a Sisyphean one. But for the sake of the last shred of sanity we have as a country, everything must be done to ensure it is a success.
• Kene Obiezu wrote from Abuja