In the past few days, Twitter has been abuzz with #EndSars and even today, it’s still going strong. The long and short of it is that many Nigerians have been sharing their harrowing experiences at the hands of the members of SARS – the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a department within the Nigeria Police Force,in addition to a loud demand that the unit be scrapped.
Over 100,000 tweets from concerned Nigerians. The people don’t feel protected. If we cannot FixSARS then #EndSARS.
— ITS DONJAZZY AGAIN😉 (@DONJAZZY) December 4, 2017
Apparently, the unit which was set up as a special department to combat armed robbery has become a symbol of government molestation of citizens thanks to “some” rogue members of the team. The use of “some” is for the sake of erring on the side of caution because if the truth is to be told, the number of stories that have come out about SARS seems like many members of the unit engage in the extortion and molestation being documented with this hashtag.
— Samson Idoko (@samsonidoko) December 4, 2017
As the tweets keep rolling out for the hashtag, it is very clear that these people have terrorized many people from different walks of life. Although, It seems that these errant officers mostly like to target young men, young women and senior members of the society are not exempt from the hardships they inflict.
Can never forget November 2005, driving in Abuja with @sommbonu and @IAMOfem. Stopped by a plain clothes officer with a gun, chased and actually being shot at for being “suspected armed robbers”. Ofem still has the bullet scars on his shoulder.#EndSARS
— Ebuka Obi-Uchendu (@Ebuka) December 4, 2017
From extorting money from innocent citizens, physical abuse, rape, threat to life and planting of evidence just to implicate and extort bribe to actually executing people in their cells – these are some of the allegations that have been levelled against them. And to the claim that some of those stories are fabricated, which is valid, the video evidence has hinted that the accusations may be largely true. Amnesty International (Nigeria) has long documented the many allegations of wickedness by SARS officers and widespread police brutality in general. This is certainly a serious matter.
— Amnesty Int. Nigeria (@AmnestyNigeria) December 4, 2017
How can the police, who are to serve and protect the citizens, be accused in such large numbers of extortion, rape, beatings and even murder? How can we have so much evidence to show how frequently it happens? This is abnormal, highly frightening and terribly sad. The official designation of the police in Nigeria is “friend” but reality seems to be closer to something more fearful and sinister. It is unacceptable. When it comes to SARS, many have said they don’t know the difference between them and the menacing robbers they’re supposed to keep away from us. In fact, many who have never encountered armed robbers are grappling with the trauma of negative experiences with SARS
“SARS officers believe they have carte blanche to carry out acts of torture. This is hardly surprising when many of these officers have bribed their way to SARS in the first place. The police chiefs in charge are themselves entwined in the corruption,” from our Sept. 2016 report. pic.twitter.com/vVKmKmLkHy
— Amnesty Int. Nigeria (@AmnestyNigeria) December 3, 2017
Well, the police have responded to the #EndSars clamour; we hear that the Inspector-General has ordered an immediate re-organization of the squad. To be honest, most of the citizenry don’t know what this means or if it has any import to the reality on ground.
— Nigeria Police Force (@PoliceNG) December 4, 2017
For many people, the conclusion is that it is a show to make people move on and forget their pain. A good point to buttress this, as many have pointed out, is that this is an IG and many others before him, who have ordered the dismantling of simpler things like illegal checkpoints which litter the country and practically nothing happened.
— BBC Africa (@BBCAfrica) December 5, 2017
This only points to one thing- #EndSars is going to need so much more than online rage and unity, It’s a great start but it will also require a lot of hard work and may take a longer to sort out than we might want. This is also the case with many other dysfunctional and destructive things we need to change and correct in this country.
Nigeria needs a lot more work than we’ve been putting in. The question is this: are we ready and willing to give it what it takes? The answers will be seen how many problems are pushed back by our stubborn resistance and how many continue to snuggle up to us in our complicit silence.