…Nigerians recount sordid tales
By Olakunle Olafioye
More Nigerians have recounted excruciating ordeals in the hands of operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
Operatives of the dreaded police unit have come under heavy criticism in the last few days over allegations of harassments, extortions and outright violations of human rights, with many Nigerians calling for the scrapping of the unit.
Narrating his experience, Roland Agede, said his ugly encounter with the operatives of SARS happened on September 2014, while driving to Berger area of Lagos. “There was little traffic and I noticed that a vehicle occupied by police men was behind me. They managed to catch up and ordered me to stop. I pulled over and I was approached by two officers who requested that I identify myself, which I did. Before I knew what was going on they attempted to coerce me into their car but I resisted. Eventually two of them entered my car and drove me to an unknown destination because I was not familiar with the area. After driving for some time I saw a signpost that said, ‘Welcome to Ogun State.’ When we got to their station, they took me into a small dark room and locked me up.
“All this while, they had seized my phone so I couldn’t contact anybody. After over an hour, their boss arrived and came with my phone. He switched on my phone and went through my contacts, call log, messages and asked that I identify some of the people on my contacts. After that he ordered my release.
“I was asked to go but then I did not know the way back to my destination. Eventually one of them gave me the description,” Agede said.
Another Nigerian, who simply identified himself as Bibobra said his own encounter with SARS was in Rivers State in 2016. According to him, he was whisked to a secluded location along with two of his friends on their way from a club and made to part with N20, 000.
“I was leaving Casablanca, a popular club in Port Harcourt along with two of my friends when we were accosted by a team of police men. We would have demanded to know our offence but because we realized that they were from SARS we decided to cooperate with them. They collected our phones and searched through them. They later requested that we bail ourselves.
“At that point, one of us who, is a lawyer decided to query them over why we had to pay to secure our freedom without any offence. But at that instant, they became more hostile and threatened to shoot us. It is only a foolish person that would continue to argue with them in that situation. At last we were made to part with N20,000 before we could be released,” he said.
The campaign for the proscription of the squad began last week when some Nigerians took to the social media to condemn what they termed the excesses of the police unit with many notable Nigerians including ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, lending their voices to the call.
Atiku, on his Twitter handle @atiku, said the arbitrary harassment of young Nigerians by police (who should be protecting them) has no place in a democratic society.
Many Nigerians have continued to share their horrible experiences with operatives of SARS on social media lending their voices to the EndSARS campaign which had attracted over 400,000 responses as at the last check on Twitter.
Some of the tweets detailing horrible experiences of some Nigerians with the operatives of SARS include:
“They can’t be professional, they’re just like OPC. This is what SARS did to me and threatened to burn down my car with my wife n five month old baby last Saturday after they took one way and hit my car#TheyMustGo that’s the bus they used #End SARS.”—Sodimu Oladimeji
“This #ENDSARS is the best news I have had from this government era, I have seen them act like mad dogs beating up people and locking them up and have them jail and collect their money from them. God abeg remove the person wey even think of SARS in the first place.”—Jachi @Jachichuks.
“After chopping two hot slap dey even force me to buy fuel in their vehicle—Musa Noheem @Muh_musanoheem.
“My-story: I go pay Dstv. Coming back home I was stopped and asked what’s my work. I answered that I’m a footballer and I showed them my ID. They did not agree, they searched my body and my phone found nothing still they kept me hostage for two hours insisting that I was hiding something.”—Pablo Jnr @Iamyoungpablo
In response to the vociferous call by Nigerians to proscribe the unit, the Police accused some aggrieved politicians of being behind the call.
Force Public Relation Officer, Jimoh Moshood, while speaking during a Television Programme said the alleged initiator of the EndSARS campaign, one Jega Awosanya Segun, was under investigation.
He alleged that the initiator of the campaign had links with some unnamed politicians, saying, “Somebody who had an ulterior motive put up #EndSARS. Nigerians should be mindful because the social media is very porous. We traced the hashtag and traced it to mischievous politicians that are trying to create problem in the system that SARS is a stumbling block for them to achieve objective in the election and we are investigating this. SARS is not a killing machine as it was created to deal with cases of robbery and any other case where the offender carries firearm. SARS has been doing very well.”
Also the Senate, last week mandated its Ad-Hoc Committee on the review of the current security infrastructure of the country headed by Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, to immediately investigate all issues of alleged human rights abuses leveled against the police unit, and make necessary recommendations.