By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Hundreds of youths in Rivers State yesterday marched through major streets of Port Harcourt in protest against the activities of some operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the State Police Command.
The youths, under the aegis of Niger Delta Non-Violence Youth Leaders Assembly (NDNYLA), condemned the activities of some operatives of the police unit who had been using the unit as a cover to commit crime.
The protesters marched through some majors streets in Port Harcourt with placards that read, “Akin Fakorede has turned SARS into something else,” ” IGP rise up to the occasion, Akin Fakorede must go,” “The activities of Akin Fakorede is creating bad image for the Nigerian Police,” amongst others.
Addressing journalists at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre, Port Harcourt, shortly after the protest, Coordinator of the group, Comrade Michael Omachi, accused the SARS Commander, Akin Fakorede, of being incapable of handling operatives under him.
Omachi said, “We want to state that the SARS Commander, Akin Fakorede is incapable of handling his men. We are being humiliated; our people are being killed. Our people have been raped and at the end of the day, the will come back and say it is our people that raped our people. Meanwhile, it is SARS people that are raping our people.
“They go with different kind of drugs in their pockets and go to search people’s houses. At the end of the day, they plant the drugs in people’s houses. They will plant those exhibits and arrest those people. They will deal with those people and at the end of the day, you bail yourself with hundreds of thousands of naira in our state. We will no longer allow it.
“For the sake of time, what we are saying today is that let the Federal Government, especially the President, Buhari, to come to our aid. Let the Inspector-General of Police come to our aid.”
Also speaking, one of the leaders of the protesters, Mr. Njobuanwu Okocha, demanded that the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, sets up a committee to investigate the activities of SARS operatives in the state.
Okocha said, “We are here today to register our displeasure with the activities of SARS in Rivers State. We are not against the Nigerian Police, we are not against security agents. What we are saying is that we have series of complaints against SARS. His Excellency, Governor Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, has also made some allegations against SARS.
“What we expect is for the hierarchy of the Nigerian Police, the Inspector-General of Police and the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State to set up a unit to investigate these allegations. SARS is there to protect us but today we found out that SARS instead of protecting us, is killing us.”
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, had at several fora accused operatives of the SARS of the State Police Command of being behind the spate of kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes in the state.
He had also alleged that criminal activities of SARS operatives were uncovered by the Inspector General of Police X Squad Abuja deployed to the state after the squad busted the attempted kidnap of one Mr. Azumana Ifeanyi last month at Orazi Community in GRA, Port Harcourt.
Wike, who made the accusation while addressing journalists at Government House, Port Harcourt, stated that the embattled Rivers State Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) Commander, Mr. Akin Fakorede, and his operatives had been indicted by an official Police Signal, which indicated that they were responsible for the series of kidnapping and deadly robbery across the state.
He stated that the SARS Commander was planted in the state to sabotage the security architecture of the state and create an atmosphere of fear.