In the first quarter of 2019, a campaign started on social media raising awareness of the unlawful, brutal and torturous behaviour inflicted on young citizens by the very organisation set up to protect them. The #ENDSARS campaign raised a lot of concerns and a lot of young affected citizens shared their stories in hopes that the Federal Government can help bring the actions of SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) to a complete stop or at least controlled. There were stories of SARS operatives harassing young men for the most flimsy reasons, without going through the proper protocol and without substantial evidence against these young men who they sometimes arrested, bound, took to SARS Headquarters or nearby ATMs for extortion. SARS was set up as an elite team to fight criminal cases that were beyond the police force. Why is it then that the same SARS operatives assigned to protect the citizens are the same ones terrorizing them? Rather than look into the matter, the Inspector General of Police made a public announcement praising the efforts of the SARS operatives and insisted that they were needed to continue the fight against armed robbery within the Nation. I was extremely disappointed by this outcome. There was photographic evidence of obvious harassment of innocent citizens being spread online and for the IGP to publicly support these actions, it meant and means that the entire police force indeed is not fighting for the people.
I think what I stated here indicates the pathetic situation, the police has found themselves. It further buttresses the inadequate training for the services they are supposed to provide to the public instead of being perceived by the public and community to be providing protection to known criminals and those that can afford to.
As with every Nigerian civil campaign started online, the #ENDSARS flames fizzled out faster than it had started, I believe part of this was because the Police Force actively tried to put an end to any offline Protest going on within the country. The protesters soon realised that life was more important than protesting a cause that was likely not going to yield any result.
Furthermore, the security challenges facing this nation are made worse by the porous borders and inadequate security that exist with our neighbours. Migrants from such countries as Cameroun, Niger, Chad, and the Republic of Benin, pour into Nigeria in their millions and never return to their home countries. This phenomenon bloats our population so much so that we cannot keep up with the census but rather give estimates that are frequently being revised. This is bad for socio-economic planning. It is bad politics and it is a courtship with danger. A case in point is the migration of hostile Fulani Herdsmen some of whom are unauthorised aliens in the country. The actions of these marauders can pitch this nation into another civil war. These are civilians with arms carried in the open and our police look the other way. Incredible! This cannot happen in other ECOWAS countries. Any Nigerian caught in those countries without any valid immigration papers will be dumped in jail before he /she can say their name.
The sad irony is that most of these countries do not harbour Nigerians the way we accept their nationals. Here in this country, they can obtain a Nigerian Passport with ease, but Nigerians who want to stay in those countries remain as aliens if they are allowed to stay at all. These lax border controls put heavy pressure on our economic and social services with the concomitant heating up of the polity. As I have said previously, more than a third of Nigerians have no fixed address so it will not be easy to get all these aliens out before they take over our country. Thirty three per cent of our population is close to 66million. We cannot afford to be silent.
Our current president came into office with the top priority of ridding the nation of corruption. However, one cannot fight corruption without sanitizing and overhauling the police institution and the judiciary. The crusade against corruption cannot begin and end in the office of the president, it ought to be anchored on the platform of our legal institutions, rule of law and accountability of all persons in authority, regardless of their functions and positions. For this to be so the police must be taught that the law is no respecter of persons and as thus should act it out. There lies the challenge for our leaders, if they do not imbibe these norms, eschew nepotism, they labour in vain.
PS: If you want to read some of my previous articles, please visit FADE’s website: www.fadeafrica.org or grab a copy of my latest book which is a collection of my thoughts titled ‘HOW LITTLE WE ARE.’