POLICE BRUTALITY, A FESTERED SORE IN NIGERIA

Sam. O. Akinola—18th Oct. 2020

A demostrator holds a sign in Lagos during another protest: image credit: skynews

The youth are angry, for a country with the highest youth population in the world this should be worrisome, especially for the fact that every Nigerian youth is somehow baked hard by the harsh political and economic situations into a perpetual state of militancy.

Police brutality, while not something new in the country (in the world as a whole) has become a festered sore and now Nigerians are saying ‘enough is enough’, but who will listen with the crops of perpetually incompetent political leaders the country is plagued with, feeding fat on the wealth of the nation.   

“End SARS”, “End police brutality” is now the reigning mantra as thousands upon thousands of Nigerians (mostly youth) protest all over the country against the endemic police brutality.

SARS, a unit of the Nigerian Police Force (Special Anti-robbery Squad) was set up in the era of 1984 to combat growing cases armed robbery. The general notion is that the unit has outlasted its useful. The unit is bedeviled with brutality, barbaric torture of victims, wanton extra-judicial killings, extortion, bribery and so on.

A demonstrator holds a sign during protest over alleged police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria, on 17 October: image credit: skynews

Since 1990s several human rights organizations have documented cases of human right violation. It is reported that in June this year Amnesty international released a report that documented more than 80 cases of SARS human rights abuse such as ill-treatment, torture, extra judicial killings between 2017 and 2020.

Personally I can relate with the feelings of my fellow Nigerians. I recalled about two years ago, my distant cousin, a lad of about 21 years old, got mugged by SARS on his way from work. They accused him of being a ‘YAHOO BOY’, a lad who was apprenticing as a barber. After rounds of slaps to dazzle his face they forced him to ATM machine and had him withdraw 40,000 naira to bail himself on the spot or else he find himself in prison; that was the money sent into his bank account for the upkeep of his younger sisters. I felt so bad when the lad with teary eyes reported later to me. So, from experience I knew the evil of this most-corrupted police unit called SARS.

This police unit has become a disease, the sore has festered into a disease that must be eliminated from the Nigerian society. The worrisome issue is, will our leaders listen to the voices of Nigerians? What will then happen to the billions of naira being allocate to this unit annually? Will the corrupted cabals benefiting immensely from this billions not find way to fight the masses back to keep this ‘hooligan police unit’?

Protesters against SARS in London on 11 October: image credit: skynews

Well, let’s watch how the government will handle the protest and the demand to end police brutality. This is a wakeup call that Nigerians had had enough of the suffering and hardship sweeping across the nation because of bad governance and political corruption. The international communities are firmly in support of Nigerians demanding for their rights. The right organizations such as Black Lives Matter have voiced their support. Some Celebrities in entertainment and technology industries too have shown solidarity to Nigerians to demand for their fundamental human rights. Now the struggles continue, the sore has festered but will there be healing? I pray there should be, or else violence is rousing, its prospect is alarming.     

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