Fulani Kwajafa, a retired commissioner of police, has expressed regrets for establishing the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force.
The excesses and brutality of the unit notorious for human rights violation has sparked protests across Nigeria for over one week now, with demonstrators demanding a reform of the entire police system.
Kwajafa, while speaking in an interview with BBC Hausa, said SARS had completely derailed from its founding objectives.
He stated that the unit was created to check the spate of robbery in the country, when President Muhammadu Buhari was the military head of state.
“My name is Fulani Kwajafa. I entered the Nigeria Police Force in 1984. Then robbery was prevalent, this was why Buhari was Head of State. He (Buhari) got a lot of complaint that people were stealing from each other, robbing people — he told me and Mr Inyang, the then IGP, that we must do something about it or be fired.
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“Mr Inyang called me and told me to come up with a plan to save the country from thieves, so I said okay. I told him to give me his trust, resources and officers to start work.
“After four months of creating SARS, there was peace, those who were not caught ran, and those who were caught were sent to prison.
“This thing frustrates me, there is no reason why because someone commits a crime that the person should be killed. There are laws and no one will give an order that if you see armed robbers kill the person”, he said.
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Kwajafa disclosed that he had been hearing demoralizing stories about the police unit, before the movement that called for it to be scrapped.
The former police commissioner stated that he would not have created the unit, if he had known operatives will brutalise Nigerians.
“I have been hearing disheartening news, to the extent that I have thought to myself that it seems among the SARS officials, there are armed robbers,” Kwajafa also said.
“This is not why we created SARS, the reason is completely different, this is not the purpose. In fact, when I am mentioned as the creator of SARS, I feel ashamed. It’s a thing of regret for me.
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“If I had known it would be like this, I wouldn’t have created it because people who know when I established the unit always say to be, is it not Kwajafa’s baby? But this is not what I birthed, it has been changed.”