A retired Police Commissioner Simeon Danladi Midenda has faulted the operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS for carrying guns and standing on the road looking for criminals to catch.
He noted that their actions have violated the essence of the unit’s secrete mission, which is to spring up surprises.
Disclosing this in a chat with Vanguard’s Crime Editor, Emma Nnadozie, Midenda who founded SARS said: “The secret behind the successes of the original SARS was its facelessness and its mode of operation.
We operated in plain clothes and used plain vehicles that could not be associated with security or any government agency. Members could not carry walkie-talkies openly, talk less of guns. With the spate of robberies in Lagos, we realized the danger of carrying weapons openly.
“We also realized that by carrying weapons openly, we have destroyed the element of surprise. We will now be known by robbers while they will remain unknown.
“We were fully combatant and combat-ready at all times. We stayed under cover while monitoring radio communication of conventional police operatives. As soon as the robbery was reported anywhere in Lagos, we went out with speed, each team to a predetermined location. At our various locations, we patiently waited while the conventional policemen continued to chase the robbers around Lagos.
“In their bid to escape, the robbers almost always fell into our traps and met their waterloo. All robbers arrested in combat had no option but to give us details of their composition and numbers of the operations they had carried out before their arrest. This information was used to solve previous cases of robberies and gave us names of other robbers still on the loose to go after. We never stood on the road looking for robbers. We met them in their beds.
“We did not also receive direct complaints from members of the public but allowed the DPOs to do their job and hand over to us established cases of armed robbery for further follow-up action. In the same vein, after taking over a case from a DPO but failed to link their suspects with any robbery, we usually sent them back to the DPO for them to be charged with lesser offenses.”