Long post alert!
In the last few days, I have read extremely disheartening news, that peaceful protests across Nigeria to end SARS brutality were met with intimidation (Durojaiye, 2020, BBC pidgin news 9th October 2020).
For those that don’t understand what SARS means in this context (definitely not in the context of COVID and other airway diseases), here is a quick overview.
SARS is the abbreviation for Special Anti-Robbery Squad – a branch of the Nigerian police force established in 1991 to deal with crimes associated with armed robbery, car snatching, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and crimes associated with firearms (Omonobi and Erunke, 2017).
However, there have been widespread reports and evidence of the brutality, harassment, and intimidation, to mention a few, being exerted by the squad on the Nigerian populace, in particular, the Nigerian youth (International Amnesty report 2016, Dailypost.ng 3rd October 2020).
This has become more evident in recent times, most likely due to the widespread use of social media which has allowed for the sharing of information including footage and pictures of the squad’s acts.
In view of the issue, on Thursday, there was a peaceful protest, calling for an end to SARS, but unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, there were reports of the police harassing protesters.
It is saddening, and my heart weeps.
Nigeria is already handicapped by poor governance and economic failures. We need to get on top of things. For this to happen, we have to be allowed to express ourselves, think critically about expressed opinions, argue constructively, and challenge or protest injustice without fear of intimidation, so that the right decisions for the populace can be made and effected.
The current situation makes this difficult to achieve.
At this stage, I’m not sure of the way forward, but keeping quiet is not an option.
Let’s create more awareness about the EndSARS situation in Nigeria. Perhaps this will help encourage the government to address the situation more effectively.
BBC pidgin news 9th October 2020. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/pidgin/world-54481695.amp. Retrieved October 10, 2020
Daily post.ng 3rd October 2020. https://www.google.com/amp/s/dailypost.ng/2020/10/03/sars-allegedly-kills-man-in-delta-flees-with-victims-car-video/ Retrieved October 10, 2020
Durojaiye 2020. https://www.icirnigeria.org/endsars-protesters-keep-vigil-at-lagos-house-of-assembly-amid-police-intimidation/ Retrieved October 10, 2020
International Amnesty report 2016. “‘YOU HAVE SIGNED YOUR DEATH WARRANT TORTURE AND OTHER ILL TREATMENT BY NIGERIA’S SPECIAL ANTI-ROBBERY SQUAD (SARS)” (PDF). Amnesty International. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
Omonobi and Erunke 2017. Kingsley, Omonobi (4 December 2017). “Anti-SARS campaign: IG orders investigation of anti-robbery squad”. Vanguard Newspaper. Kingsley Omonobi & Joseph Erunke. Nigeria. Retrieved October 10, 2020