September 30, 2019

It takes a lot to surprise the average Nigerian.

Honourable senators breaking into fights on TV? Routine.

The president announcing that he’s journeying abroad for healthcare inaccessible to the regular guy on the street? Irritated, but not surprised.

But every time word gets out, of a policeman assaulting a citizen for using an iPhone, or sporting dreadlocks or moving about with a laptop, there is no amount of victims, no amount of tweet threads and no amount of repetition that would ever make it seem normal place.

Recently, a software developer and twitter user – @toniastro_ narrated his ordeal at the hands of alleged SARS operatives around Ketu in Lagos State.

In the thread that has been shared over 11,000 times, Toni narrated how members of Nigeria’s Police Force demanded he alight from a bike transporting him to get a BRT home, before demanding he pay the ridiculous sum of one million naira to members of the force.

His pleas that he be released, as he was only a software developer working for a company fell on ears made deaf with guilt. To the policemen, “everything na yahoo-yahoo’, just going to show how detached Nigerian policemen are from the realities of changing vocational systems.

He was taken to the Area H Police Command in Ogudu where he was subjected to all manner of physical abuse for hours before being made to part with an undisclosed amount of money that could have been at least half the amount in his account.

This story is not unlike the hundreds or even thousands of others that have no doubt happened in the course of this year alone, but nothing can take away from the horror each new event brings.

Perhaps what’s most frightening about these occurrences isn’t simply the fact that your mere existence, whether or not you’re sporting dreads, or tattoos or an iPhone could make you a potential target, but the fact that the one body of people, the same ones reports of assaults should ideally be tabled, are the sole harbringers of harm.

In the aftermath of Toni’s attack, the #StopRobbing Us movement has been borne, an offshoot of the #EndSars movement which Nigerian youth have been campaigning for, for at least two years.

This movement is largely supported by members of Nigeria’s tech scene, with big players like IrokoTV CEO – Jason Njoku, pledging ₦10 million to the cause. Whether or not the renewed vim will finally bring an end to this Nigerian scourge remains to be seen, we can only hope that until then, these uniformed marauders #StopRobbingUs until then.

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