It is no longer news that the past few days have been tumultuous for Nigeria. The media space is saturated with gruesome photos and videos of perpetrated evil carried out by men of a special unit in the Nigeria Police Force – the Special Anti Robbery Squad, notoriously known as SARS.
These acts have been embraced with a blizzard of ‘peaceful protests’ in some states of the federation and the FCT. However, in what could be aptly described as an exacerbated flinch, these protests have been confronted with more killings, the same thing we protest against.
On Sunday 11th October, with my clenched fist, I registered my presence at the protest. In the nation’s capital Abuja, we marched all corners of the finely planned city and finally planted ourselves at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters. We were dismissed with tear gas — even though we chested the canisters, we were dismissed with hot water from the police armored carrier, and copious rounds of ammunition were shot in the air to deter us. We were not moved.
While some protesters were caught and beaten to a pulp, others were seized and taken to their den. The resilience of the youths was unbelievable. This is perhaps the first time I have seen an assemblage of Nigerian youths march to protest against what has now become an unending plague affecting the country. The dilatory actions of those controlling the power apparatus of the country triggered this.
It was in the nub of the face-off with police that the news of SARS dissolution greeted us. We were indifferent to the news and some of us who were au courant with the shenanigans of political charlatans in Nigeria, especially in this 4th Republic was not moved even though the word “dissolved” was used for the first time.
Primarily, beyond the innumerable atrocities of SARS and the subsequent dissolution, there is an urgent need to thoroughly ‘work on’ (I don’t want to use the cliche ‘reform’) the Nigeria Police Force. The Nigeria police force has long-standing unbeatable records of brutality, reckless use of weapons against the citizens, bribery, and all sorts of vices that are inhumane in all sense of the word. The protest to purge out putrid fishes in the force is necessary. This further plunged me into utter bewilderment about what a friend mildly said yesterday: ‘SARS can be dissolved but police brutality will not end’
The dissolution of the Special Anti Robbery Squad is not enough reason to wither our hands and silence our blaring voice from the protest. The pronouncement means the men of the special squad will be integrated into other units of the force to continue their heinous crimes against the citizens.
Orientation is one of the basic substance that is lacking in the police force. The police lack orientation about their job and how it is carried out.
Amongst the reform process, mental evaluation should be made compulsory as one of the requirements to handle rifle. Increase in salaries and other things needs to be put in place too.
The call for an end to police brutality should be a wake-up call for ALL Nigerians. Not just youths.
We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends. The Youth of a Nation are the trustees of posterity.
WE HAVE A VOICE
Bright is a Graphic Designer, Writer & Columnist.