Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, usually sent cold shivers down the spines of criminals who saw the unit not just as an antidote to their atrocious acts, but capable of sending them to their graves at the snap of the finger.
SARS, which is one of the units under the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, headed by a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, was established to detain and prosecute those involved in violent crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery, among others.
The unit was founded in 1992, by a former Commissioner of Police, Simeon Danladi Midenda, to address the surging wave of crime in Lagos State.
That year, one Col. Rindam. an Army officer from Plateau State was killed by some policemen at a check point in Lagos. His death sparked protests as soldiers took to the streets of Lagos in search of any policeman to avenge the death of their officer. Policemen therefore abandoned all checkpoints and flash points in Lagos and withdrew to their respective barracks, thereby giving robbers room to have a field day as they operated with impunity. The era witnessed the reign of terror by the Shina Rambo robbery gang.
To put an end to the reign of terror, SARS was formed with only 15 policemen who operated in two Peugeot station wagons, until the rift was settled after much deliberations between authorities of the Police and Army.
One unique feature of this unit was its mode of operation. Its operatives operated in plain clothes and used vehicles that could not be associated with the security or any government agency. They were also barred from carrying Walkie Talkie and guns openly in order not to destroy their element of surprise.
The operatives were fully combat-ready at all times and stayed undercover while monitoring radio communication of conventional police operatives.
As soon as robbery incident was reported anywhere in Lagos, they went out with speed, each team to a predetermined location.
At their various locations, they patiently waited while the conventional policemen continued to chase the robbers around Lagos.
In their bid to escape, robbers always fell into the operatives’ traps and met their waterloo. All robbers arrested in combat had no option but to give details of their composition and number of the operations they had carried out to the operatives. The information were then used to solve previous cases of robberies and also gave them names of other robbers on the loose to go after.
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