Written by Evi Idoghor, Creator of Letstalknationblog.com
Police brutality is one thing the citizens of Nigeria and the United States have in common. The year 2020 has been laced with a lot of trauma, and if we can agree on one thing is the phrase—enough is enough!
At the brink of Nigeria’s 60th celebration for gaining independence from the Brits, something else began to brew, something that Millennials in this country haven’t quite experienced. It first began with an image of a woman making rounds on social media, who seems to have been crying for days on end, her eyes, bloodshot red, with tears trickling down her face. She is found to be muted by the phrase—SARS.
This proverbial woman is a depiction of the Nigerian youth that have become prey to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, popularly known as SARS. First created in the early 90s, to protect Nigerian citizens from armed robbery, and during the course of recent years, they have indeed become a terror to the country of Nigeria.
During the course of the week, people have shared their horror stories about their encounters with this special group of people, that is those that are still alive to share their stories. The stories of the ones, who have unjustly passed away, are disheartening, to say the least.
Now the Nigerian youth have had enough, and they have occupied streets in various states and countries crying out to the government for a long-overdue change. You can hear them in their videos of solidarity, chanting—“iPhone is not a gun,” because some uncouth police officers, took to deadly weapons to try and put an end to the peaceful protests, that have been happening over the past week. It has since been reported that about 10 citizens have lost their lives during the on-going protests.
What began as an ignition that was lit in the metropolis of Nigeria, Lagos, has spread like wild-fire across various states, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where the current sitting President, Muhammadu Buhari, resides.
The demands of the Nigerian youths are clear—stop killing us, stop harassing us! Most times, the SARS officials, now disbanded, are not on uniform. They don’t even identify themselves as law enforcement. They are often quick to jump into the vehicles of innocent victims, harass them for funds, and frantically search their phones, looking for only God knows what.
If you are a young adult and are found driving a flashy car, then you must have gotten the car by dubious means. If you are a young adult with dreadlocks, popularly referred to as dada in Nigeria, then you are perpetrators of cybercrimes. Let’s not even begin to mention piercings, tattoos, colored hair, ripped or saggy jeans, and even single women; these are all people of interest in a SARS official’s books.
Nigerians are upset because these officials fail to go after the real criminals, those who kidnap; those who double-cross people on the road and end their lives, for no reason. Those who rape and murder girls and women. Where are these officials when we need them? Or could it be that they are the ones committing these crimes? These assumptions are not far-fetched, seeing that they don’t have a good track record of protecting innocent citizens.
What can the government do to solve this problem?
1) Disband them: this has “already” been done, but recently it was announced that a new group has been created “SWAT” which stands for Special Weapons and Tactics, to fill in the shoes SARS left behind. Will these be better, more educated, respectful, and fit for the job? Only time will tell.
2) Reform the Police Unit: The Nigerian citizens are also protesting for the reformation of the Nigerian police force. We desire more educated men and women to fill these positions, people with University degrees, well versed in our criminal justice systems. We want people who have gone through proper training to become Law Enforcers in our society. We need those who will risk their lives to join the police force in service to their country, to be better compensated— with good pay and benefits that will outlive them. If such measures aren’t put in place, we will keep getting the same results. No millennial would want to join the Police force, as there is nothing attractive about it.
3) Proper Identification: a police officer should always first identify themselves, especially when they are not in their proper attire, except the circumstance calls for a different action i.e. when there is a tip-off or clear harassment of innocent citizens taking place, then they can act swiftly to protect the victims. Other than that, double-crossing people when they are driving, jumping into their vehicles, and/or threatening them with an assault rifle when they can see clearly that the citizen isn’t armed, is no longer tolerable.
4) Search Warrant: if a person becomes a person of interest in an on-going investigation, then law enforcers have the right to request a search warrant from the lawmakers, to search their homes, vehicles, and devices. A citizen can’t be on their way to and from work, or running errands, and are stopped by the police, asking for their phones to be searched. It is an infringement of human rights.
It only took for one deadly incident to occur in the United Kingdom in the 90s for handguns to be banned. Hopefully, the uprising of Nigerian youths is enough probable cause for the government to act in the favor of its citizens, quickly.
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About The Author: Evi Idoghor is a Christian, writer, content creator, and a graduate of chemical engineering from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Consumed by her love for writing and desire to effect change, she launched her online platform in 2018 to tap into her creativity and start meaningful conversations with one goal in mind—to redefine status quo.
Having spent a great part of her formative years in the US where she lived for about 11 years and got to explore what the beautiful country offers by traveling around its coasts, most of her writings have been influenced by her time spent in America. In addition to that, she has worked and partnered with writing agencies and individuals to bring their stories to life.