Nigeria’s Christian Leaders Welcome Disbandment of Contentious Force, Protest Redeployment

Nigerians protesting against the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the country's capital Abuja.
Credit: Public Domain

Christian leaders in Nigeria have welcomed the decision of the country’s government to disband the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), whose members have been accused of committing various atrocities.

In their collective statement obtained by ACI Africa, the members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) however protest the decision to redeploy SARS officers to other security organs in the West African nation.

“CAN appreciates the prompt and positive responses of the Federal Government in disbanding SARS. It is unprecedented in recent history of our country and it is praiseworthy. This is what democracy is all about,” the representatives of Christian leaders in Nigeria say.

In their October 13 statement signed by CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, the leaders however add, “CAN is not happy with the automatic (redeployment) of the officers and men of the disbanded unit to other units without sanctioning the bad eggs among them.”

As a way forward, the representatives of Christian leaders in Africa’s most populous nation call for a judicial investigation into the disbanded entity “with a view to bringing the culprits to book so that such bad eggs might not be allowed to corrupt other units or continue with their old habit of lawlessness.”

The country’s Inspector of Police announced the disbandment of SARS October 11 “with immediate effect,” with its members expected to be redeployed to other police formations, commands and units. The force had existed as a branch of the Nigerian Police Force.

The disbandment followed days of online outcry under #EndSARSprotest and nationwide protests over claims of harassment, extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and extortion by officers under SARS.

In a statement, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Lagos Archdiocese expressed his support for the protests, calling for a “thorough and realistic review of the entire structure of the Police Force in order to restore its integrity.”

In their October 13 statement, members of CAN who include representatives of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) make known their dissatisfaction amid street protests, those involved decrying the redeployment decision.

CAN leadership wants the punishment of SARS officers found culpable, and the country’s security agencies “reformed and transformed into a modern security architecture that befits the contemporary challenges such as terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, and herdsmen attacks.”

“Uniformed men and women should cherish the rare opportunity the country gave them and the trust of handling the security of the nation by behaving responsibly. They should make us proud of them,” the representatives of Christian leaders say in their October 13 collective statement.

Subscribe to our Free Daily ACI Africa Newsletter

At ACI Africa, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news from Africa, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church – so that you can grow in your Catholic faith and awareness about the people of God in Africa.

When you subscribe to the ACI Africa Updates, we will send you a daily email with links to the news you need.

Use the form below to tell us where we can send the ACI Africa Updates

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]