(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – On December 11, 2017, there was a nation wide protest against alleged widespread unprofessional conduct of Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.
In Rivers State for instance, there were reported cases of extortion, harassment of citizens and unlawful killings. SARS operatives were also alleged to have been partisan during the supplementary elections in Rivers State.
At a time, kidnapping was becoming a daily occurrence and threat to security was palpable all over the State, and curiously hands of some of the victims were pointing in the direction of SARS operatives.
The seemly overwhelming evidence prompted Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to petition the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris, but  his cries were not taken seriously.
However, as the operations of SARS began to fail the test of citizens in other states of the federation, victims began to raise alarm, culminating to the hash tag: End SARS, which became a national movement, with citizens pouring out to the streets in protest on Monday.
Meanwhile, the exercise which was driven by Non Governmental Organisations in other states was politicised in Rivers State.
While Samuel Nwanosike, Publicity Secretary of Peoples Democratic Party led the End SARS protest, Davies Ikanya, Chairman of All Progressives Congress in Rivers State simultaneously led another protest in support of SARS in Rivers State.
It would be recalled that at the national level, the Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, who has acknowledged some of the weaknesses in the operations of SARS nation wide and has gone ahead to propose a reorganisation, but the signals from Rivers State were conflicting because of political considerations.
In one of his reactions, Akin Fakorede, the Commander of SARS in Rivers State and who has been severally accused of being partisan by the Rivers State Government had conceded that they do not rule out bad eggs in their system but that the squad has mechanisms in place to address infractions when they happen.
Meanwhile, Rivers State, by the cacophony of voices missed an opportunity to objectively evaluate the operations of SARS with a view to identifying where the infractions occur and how to address them.
Luckily, shortly after the  petition by Governor Wike to the Inspector General of Police and another petition by the Rivers State House of Assembly to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and stop the security breaches in Rivers State, the frequent kidnappings and other major threats to lives have ceased.
As expected, the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Zaki Ahmed, when addressing pro – SARS on Monday defended his men. He said they were discharging their duties professionally but pleaded for public support to enable SARS operatives and others succeed in the protection of lives and property in Rivers State.
Remarkably, the Commissioner, in his address appeared not to have paid much attention to the reported infractions of SARS operatives because of the conflicting demands of the politicians who led the separate  demonstrations.

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