By Eric Elezuo
With the general clamour for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force, and the counter clamour for its retention, the stage has remained tension soaked. This is even as the SARS intensified the action for which the public are calling for their scrapping.
In two related incidences during the week, the now infamous anti-robbery department of the Police has been accused for the abduction without trace of the reportedly two innocent Nigerians in a matter that suggest victimization. First, a trader at the International Alaba International Market, Mr. Israel Eche, who was reportedly shot before being whisked away, and Mr. Segun Adekoya, a personal Assistant to former Executive Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government, Comrade Ayodele Adewale.
Speaking exclusively to TheBoss, the wife of Mr. Segun Adekoya, said that her husband was reportedly whisked away by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police Force penultimate Wednesday at the FESTAC Town area.
In her lamentation, Mrs. Abosede Adekoya, cried out, saying the whereabout of her husband who was picked up by the operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police is still unknown even as the family has made efforts to locate him
Speaking exclusively to TheBoss, Mrs. Adekoya said she was worried over the wellbeing and whereabouts of her husband, who was reportedly whisked away by members of SARS since Tuesday.
“I have been worried since yesterday when somebody called me to tell that my husband has been arrested. I have not seen him since then, and don’t even know where they have taken him to,” she said.
The embattled woman confided in TheBoss that her husband is a good man, and could not have done anything to warrant being taken away from his family. She called on the Lagos State Commissioner of Police to help her locate her husband, saying that within the few hours her husband has been taken, life has not remained the same for her and her three children.
In his reaction to the arrest of Segun Adekoya, the former Executive Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government, Comrade Ayodele Adewale, said he fails to fathom what the young man’s offence could have been to warrant SARS to arrest him even when there is a regular police. He added however, that he has faith in the legal system, and believes the Police would realise their mistake and let him go.
Mr. Segun Adekoya was picked up Tuesday in FESTAC Town by operatives of SARS for a yet to be disclosed reason.
In another development, the family of Eche Israel, an electronic dealer at the Alaba International Market, Ojo, has also become apprehensive after he was reportedly shot by some operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in the Mile 2 area of Lagos State.
The 30-year-old trader, according to eyewitness account, had finished from work around 6pm on Friday and was heading home on a motorcycle when he was stopped by the officers.
During an exchange that allegedly ensued, the victim was said to have queried the officers for stopping him and asked the motorcycle rider to move on. In anger, the operatives shot him in the waist.
He was allegedly put in the boot of the car the SARS men brought and driven away after the officers had shot sporadically into the air to scare away residents, who had thronged the scene.
A cousin of the victim, as reported by Punch, Mary Israel, said a family friend, who witnessed the shooting, called the attention of the family to the incident.
She said they had been to different police stations in the state, including the SARS office at Ikeja, but had been unable to find Eche.
She said, “He deals in electronics in Alaba market. He had finished the day’s work and was going to his house at Ajegunle around 6pm on Friday when the officers asked him to stop. They parked a red vehicle beside the road.
“They found a Samsung phone on him and some money. The man questioning him was not in uniform, so he argued with him and asked why he was being questioned. The policeman held him by the trousers when he asked his motorcycle rider to move on.
“They shot him in the waist. The motorcycle rider fled. He was thrown into the boot of the vehicle and the policemen drove off.
“They didn’t find anything incriminating on him. He is not a robber or a thief. He has his business and a family. He is a responsible man.”
Another family member, Blessing Israel, said the policemen were identified with their police-crested AK-47 guns, adding that one of the men also flashed his ID card at residents when they tried to mob them.
“We have been to SARS Ikeja, Mile 2 Police Station and the Federal SARS at Alagbon. We just returned from the Adeniji Adele Police Station. They all said there was no suspect named Eche Israel with waist injury in their cells. Where else can we go? There has been no word about him since last Friday,” she added.
While a section of the public clamour for the scrapping of the outfit, another section is calling for its retention even as the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Idris Ibrahim has called for a restructure of the now infamous department.
Adekoya and Israel are just a few of the many unanswered mystery surrounding the activities if the police anti-robbery department, especially in Lagos State.
“I think they were endowed with such much unchecked powers, and they are have recklessly used it. To them, anybody they see on the street is an armed robber. No one is allowed the opportunity to make defence,” said Aliyu Mustapha, a human rights activist based in Lagos.
“The worst part is the fact that whoever they take away hardly returns or is still again. These people have to be seriously cautioned. Their job is delicate and needed in a society, but they way they are going about it is totally detrimental to human existence. Only God knows how many innocent lives have been lost to the nefarious activities,” he added.