It is no news that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has been a nuisance in society over the past couple of years. From illegal detention of citizens to extortion and the killing of citizens, we can say that the task force as neglected its primary duty of protecting the citizens to becoming their worst nightmare.
Over the years, several campaigns have been done both online and offline to ensure that the Federal Government sees that the institution is reformed or scraped, but every means seemed abortive. The campaign is themed #EndSars.
Looking through all the reports of individual encounters with SARS some factors seem to be predominant when they harass innocent citizens. They attack mainly the youth who seem to have attained a certain amount of wealth for themselves.
They attack individuals who groom their beard, keep hairstyles apart from the popular low cut, fade and skin cut. If you drive a car there is a high chance of being harassed. God forbid you to possess a laptop or a smartphone your safety that day is not certain.
Of recent Tochi Nwawuba took to Instagram to complain about how he was arrested by the force for simply keeping his beard. After showing his means of identification and telling them his occupation, they insisted on searching his car without probable cause. He refused to be searched and was held down at Lekki Phase one.
On their way to the station, he was asked to pay the sum of two hundred thousand Naira for bail or he would be killed and allegations would be fabricated against him. After much negotiation, he paid fifty-thousand-naira cash which he had on him for fear of his life.
This is just one incident out of many that show how bad the system is Poverty looms around the country and the unemployment index has made everyone a target by the force.
They wonder why the majority of the citizens are wallowing in poverty, unemployment and youths would attain a certain level of success. Times have changed in other parts of the world and our fellow African nations are evolving to fit this change, but we remain stagnant.
The lack of adequate training and resources to carry out proper investigation has left the force stagnant. The inability to move forward as led to its degeneration. From using appearances to judge if a person is a criminal or not, to the collection of bribes through force and threats, it is clear that the institution has failed.
The lack of structure and enforcement of citizens’ rights has left them at the mercy of the officers. The Government has turned a deaf ear to the cries of the citizens and has refused to do anything concerning their complaints. This has emboldened the perpetrators of these crimes as they are certain nothing would be done to them.
According to CNN, Nigeria has the highest number of people living in poverty which is 87 million Nigerians. The officers are well aware that the people are poor so when they see an individual so young but has attained a certain level of success, they question the source.
One would think it is to bring criminals to justice but that is not the case. They use this opportunity to extort individuals unfortunate enough to be caught in their web.
The illiteracy and unintelligent force members are shameful as most of them cannot communicate properly and lack training in handling situations.
They result in violence when confronted and when things don’t go as they want it to, their fists and guns are always ready for action. The government remains silent on this issue, the people cower behind their keypads for fear of their lives and SARS operative prey on the innocent.
This shows how the nation has moved from serving the people to favoring those in power. Politicians now use them for their personal agenda to arrest and intimidate citizens.
The force reflects the corrupt nature of the country, how poor it has become, how backward we are based on infrastructures and facilities.