The Police Is Your Friend And Other Fables.

April 3, 2019

If you’ve happened to breathe air in Nigeria, or stepped within a square inch outside of your Nigerian home, then chances are, you have faced some type of police harassment.

 

Infact, it’s a certainty. And I’m willing to stake anything on the claim.

Whether it’s their quotidian ‘anything for the boys?’, or the more brash – ‘open your boot’ or ‘stop and search’ without any real grounds for suspicion, their wantonness in exerting powers is something that has gone on for so long, it now serves as routine and the butt of many a joke.

Their deviousness however goes beyond these almost petty annoyances to more worrying traits arbitrary arrests,  grievous bodily harm accorded to obtain information or even routinely substituting wanted suspects for their blameless relatives where said subject is missing are just some of the wiles adopted by the police.

 

The SARS Menace

From 1992 however, the face of the NPF’s harassment took on a new form, in its Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Originally mandated to fight the spate of robberies laying siege on Nigerian highways and streets, their gazes shifted from genuine robbers and marauders, who may have been a little too mainstream, and went instead for confoundingly smaller fish — the everyday, regular Nigerian.

What started as tiny grumbles on social media  — a disgruntled student complaining about being stopped and searched here, another narrating how he was obtained by SARS there; soon graduated  to more severe grievances.

Whispers of plain clothed policemen in unmarked cars, laying seige on unsuspecting motorists and pedestrians first made the rounds. Then it escalated to loud grumbles of routine roundups in the most unlikely places sport bars after working hours, betting centres; before culminating in a thunderous shout, heard on social media platforms the world over in 2017, the message was resonant — ‘The Nigerian police had to be stopped.’

Stories ranged from the absurd

To the downright heartbreaking

https://www.informationng.com/2017/11/10-year-old-hawker-killed-stray-bullet-sars-operative-graphic-photos.html

Hundreds and hundreds of stories similar to these plagued the internet for weeks on end, under the #EndSARS tag. Just about every conceivable evil that can be meted out to a man, had been carried out or attempted by officials of the Nigerian SARS.

 

Most chilling is the dubbing of Nigerian police stations in Lagos and Abuja as ‘abbattoirs’. Police stations with their spattering of ‘Police is your friend’ and ‘bail is free’ posters, became widely accepted as points of no return for a fraction of the citizens that happened to fall victim to arrest.

Serving and protecting the citizens held no real meaning for the majority of the police force, so they proceeded to do anything but, so the government had to act.

 

Better concerned with saving face and putting an end to the outcry; the very inadequate solution of disbanding the SARS Unit of the NPF was ordered.

 

Rather than taking the time out to understand the circumstances that could lead a purportedly trained officer to shoot and kill an unarmed citizen for a fraction of 100 or what could spur the transformation  of his duty post into  an illicit income source and the sort of discontent that could drive him to surmise anyone using a reasonably priced phone must be engaged in some sort of fraud — rather than doing anything but providing a quick fix; the easier path was chosen, and by August 2018, ‘SARS’ came to be no more.

 

 

 

The Aftermath Of SARS

For those assumed the scrapping of SARS would bring with it automatic calm where the police were concerned, then they got only a short-lived reprieve

 

They remained the public’s number one enemy, flouting police checkpoints as illegal toll points and harassing unsuspecting victims. Before long, word began to spread again of SARS officials maiming citizens, and by March 31st 2019, another life- Kolade Johnson had been claimed at the hands of policemen, this time members of the Special Anti-Cultism Squad; who thought it a reasonable thing to shoot live rounds in the air to disperse a crowd, while innocent passersby where about.

 

Their original mission was the capture of a man whose dreadlocks, ridiculously served as a marker that he was into something untoward.

In no time, calls to #EndSARS and cries against the police made trends around social media, and it appears that the 2017 cycle is likely to be rinsed and repeated; with maybe the Anti-Cultism Squad facing the axe this time round.

 

Without proper appraisals, these tragic incidents are only bound to repeat themselves, with more heart-wrenching stories as time passes. It is not enough to clip a fingernail where the whole appendage is infected, the police force requires urgent reform, and they need it this minute.

 

They will remain unapproachable, merciless, unrepentant menaces to the public until some real action that sparks a change in their orientation comes to be.

 

We can only hope  that this reform comes to be, before more lives are needlessly lost.

Boyin Plumptre

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

May 22, 2020

In January 2020, Kay — awesome writer over at TechCabal, (Zikoko’s sister publication) spent a month in South Asia, touring the borders between Bangladesh and India. In preparing for this interview, I spent an inordinate amount of time getting lost in Bangladeshi cuisine, using maybe all of 3 minutes to learn about everything else (JK. […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

January 25, 2021

It is common knowledge – at least common Twitter knowledge – that the skincare routine of most Nigerian men begins and ends with a bar of soap and vaseline. For many of the men we spoke with, they don’t see why they should care that much about their skin but others are actively taking time […]

January 25, 2021

If there’s one thing about Zikoko quizzes, it’s that they are surprisingly accurate. Today, we’re asking a simple question: What makes you dateable? Is it your sense of humour or your brains? Don’t answer, take this quiz and we’ll tell you:

Recommended Quizzes

November 15, 2019

There are two types of people in Nigeria right now: those who are proud Marlians, and those who are still in denial about stanning the divisive star. So, for those who proudly wear the Marlian tag, we made a quiz to test how well you really know Naira Marley. If you get more than 6 […]

April 9, 2020

At some point in life, we all learnt that someone can be very intelligent and still lack common sense. That’s the difference between being book smart and being street smart. If you’re not sure where on the spectrum you fall, well, that’s what this quiz is here to tell you. Take it:

December 3, 2019

Are you a professional Yoruba demon? Are you walking around in search of whose life you can wreck at any given time? Well, this quiz knows exactly how many hearts you’ve shattered to date, and before you lie that your result is inaccurate, just remember that Zikoko is never wrong. Now, take it and be […]

October 29, 2019

We are going to be attempting to guess when you’ll marry based on your favourite Nigerian foods. What does your fave swallow have to do with when you’ll tie the knot? Please, don’t ask complicated questions. This quiz is rigorous and accurate (don’t quote us), so just take it already. QUIZ: Why Do You Have […]

More from Citizen

January 13, 2021

On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning presented the approved 2021 budget to the public via a virtual conference call. If you missed it, here are a few things we think you will be interested in.  1. How will Nigeria finance the budget deficit? Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said […]

January 1, 2021

Abroad Life has a special place in my heart. I’m always super happy to speak to people about their lives and how living abroad has changed the way they view things. It’s also really great to hear people’s stories and see foreigners through the eyes of Nigerians. Today, I’m going to be sharing the most […]

December 28, 2020

On December 20, a video of Mrs Deborah Okezie, mother to Don Davis, an 11-year-old JSS1 student of Deeper Life High School, Uyo, was sexually molested and starved at school surfaced on the internet. In the video, Mrs Okezie lamented about her son’s status. “They [senior students] will remove his boxer and push their legs and hands into his anus,” she said. “Look at a child I sent to school,” she adds, “he came back with a broken anus.”

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X