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Seeing the SARS Problem as a System of Evil

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By Dr. Johnson Greg

SARS officers could never have acted alone. Do not see the problem as isolated incidents or as different bad people acting on their own.

Rather, there is a systemic dimension to it all. To understand what happened or what is happening, you need to see it as a system, ie interconnected chain of people, events and motives interplaying together and mutually Reenforcing. There has been an interconnected chain of failures, criminal negligence, calculated indifference, all of which made what happened possible.

If the Attorney General of the Federation and various state attorneys general did their work, the SARS would not have committed the atrocities. If the Chief Judges had visited the police detention centers as required by various laws, the atrocities would not have been. If the police prosecutors had questioned the evidence procured by SARS officers, the outcome would have been different. If the judges had simply honored sections 35 and 36 of the constitution dealing respectively with arrests/detentions and fair hearing, the outcome would have been much different. If the prison authority had followed the law and reported it each time a torture victim is remanded in prison, things would have been different. “Everything bad happened” in order for us to be where we are.

When you see the problem as systemic, you must seek for a systemic solution. Nigerian police needs to be overhauled. The Nigerian criminal justice system needs to be reformed. Otherwise, even if you disband SARS today, in less than two years, we will be back to square one.

The idea of banning SARS today and forming some silly and undefined SWAT the next day is an example of failing to see the problem as a system. But, of course, it is obvious why the Inspector General of Police (IGP) does not want to see it as a systemic problem. To do so will expose him as part of the problem. Remember that just a few days ago, the IGP and police spokesperson were busy trying to convince Nigerians that the SARS unit of the police could not be banned. That was indeed their mindset. They wanted to keep SARS because they benefit from its existence. So, how can Nigerians trust this IGP to lead the search for solution?

As all this commotion goes on, Emeka Ugwuonye, the Founder of Due Process Advocates Foundation (DPA), who raised alarm about was falsely charged with murder and armed robbery, in an effort to suppress the alarm he and his organization were raising about police brutality. The men who plotted the scheme of suppression against Ugwuonye are in their offices playing the innocent in the stories of police atrocities. Nigeria needs a detailed wash.

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