SARS and their hitting spree By Meduoye Adeyinka

“Where do you get the money to buy that expensive necklace you are putting on” he stylishly interrogated him while wearing a stern face. “I’m a footballer and I had gotten it from my base in Europe” he replied keenly. “That is what fraudsters always claim to be”, one uttered rashly.

“Hey, young man, step out of the car or you face the consequences”. This time he was getting drenched in his own sweat, irregularly thinking within himself of the next line of action then he uttered to them “I’m a Nigerian footballer on a national assignment, and I just rode into town”. Before he could say jack while trying to show to them his identity, he was hit with a gun as they yelled at him “Are you Ronaldo? Are you Messi? We don’t know you and we don’t care to know”. Nonsense!!!

His car tyres were deflated with gun shots and he was treated like a criminal with no element of operational description. They feigned deaf ears to the pleas from passers-by and onlookers. The delay went on for hours since he was taken to their base for severe interrogation and confirmation from the cyber space to show authenticity of what he had claimed to be. Fast-forward, the deed was finished but not completed not until he ought to drop some shillings to save his face from more brutality. He suffered pains, as his chin got swollen under the cloud hovering above. For the first time, he regretted honoring a national call. “How do I recover from this trauma” he whispered within himself.

In accordance to their statutory duties, they are supposed to deal with crimes and criminalities connected with armed robbery, kidnapping, car snatching, and of course crimes linked to firearms. But they are popularly accused of harassing, maltreating and detaining young Nigerians illegally and extorting money from them and their victim relations, which calls for meaningful repositioning.

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Before now, Nigeria’s youths had been suffering under police brutality and extortion, and this never cease with the recent nabbing and killing of a Remo Stars Sports Club player Tiamiyu Kazeem somewhere in Ogun State, which sparked protests in the usually peaceful town of Sagamu, but another tragedy occurred when a police allegedly shot dead one of the protesters. Tragic!!!

Reforms were promised, but the Nigerian Police has not changed much about its black image and interaction with the public. They are constituted to see to the internal policing of the society but their consistent entrapment on the other side is disheartening, little wonder they were ranked the worst in Africa in 2017.

Fellow Nigerians, something is wrong with the internal police system, since it has become overcrowded by people who have no regard for the human decency or dignity of citizens it ought to protect. At sight, they pull the trigger at no second thought without having a rethink into modernity. Their grievous activities have gone for too long without recourse and we can no longer be hopeful of the police leadership to effect a more drastic change.

In other countries when you see the police, you will feel safe with sigh of relief but in Nigeria the moment you see the police and its brutal agency in SARS, the hormone in you will be secreted in no time as you will want to run from them as quickly as possible because they will stare at your appearance and tag you whatever they like without recourse for discourse. And if eventually there is an option for one, they extort you with some wads of minted papers.

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With the hope to mitigate the growing cases of armed robbery and other violent crimes within the corridors of the society, rather we got entangled at the opposite. The media is on the boil, as there are alleged infractions against them, chronicled in violently robbing and killing young Nigerians at will. Those who are wailing on social media are all on point because they have somewhat witnessed and experienced the atrocities and inhumane acts of these characters.

Yes!!! We are tired of bent blame games; we are tired of “May his soul rest in peace” – which has turn out to be the most used phrase in aftermath of such heinous act. Most we continue to watch with bated breath before they harshly send us beneath our standings? The ideas and ideals in curbing the preponderance of these irregularities within the hemisphere of every nook and cranny are much needed than ever.

Nigerians have shared stories of how this sect engaged in unlawful arrest, humiliation, unlawful detention, and extortion of persons. This is not how a police department should behave. Periodically, they arrest and torture citizens for innocently civil matters while carrying out not-in-line activities that qualify them as criminals rather than policemen. They have statutory mandate which is well known but the height at which they have gone beyond its mandate is quite alarming, thus, needed to be revisited.

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Rather than exercising their constitutional assignment of investigating growing cases of armed robbery and kidnapping, they unhealthily parade every corner of the street by choosing to beam their searchlights on the conscience of the nation – which are the youths – who in turn they most often term as “Yahoo Boys”. To them, once you wearing a nicely colored haircut or short dreads with a lace of shining gold chain hanging round your neck – whether thin or thick – you are on the show for prospective uncivilized questioning.

It is pathetic that we have never seen or heard anyone getting sued for illegal wiping off of a soul, or is it that the lives of the victims of this sect don’t matter because they are Nigerians? This is dispirited because those stationed with the constitutional duties of protecting us are the ones wiping us out. They fail to realize that not every Nigerian youth commits illegal acts. In their myopic thinking, the fact that you are cruising around town with a clean Mercedes Benz, signaled your status as a cyber-fraudster. What a mirage!!!

Before they would make striking incursions into the core of the land, the inspector general of police – Mohammed Adamu as reported has ordered the immediate disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) satellite offices across Nigeria. That is valid!!!

Adeyinka writes from Lagos

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