The #EndSARS peaceful protests have been going on for five days across the country and across the world. Nigerians are making demands to end the body that inflicts so much brutality on innocent citizens.
Most of people involved in the protests are young, and it’s because they’re the most affected by SARS, but we decided to ask the older people what they think about the movement.
1. Tola, early 60s
Well, I’m a citizen of Nigeria, so I believe in the right to peacefully protest. The thing is, in situations like these, hoodlums take over and it gets really violent and that’s what I’m afraid of. You might not believe me, but SARS has stopped me a few times. I look younger than my age. They’d ask me who owns the car and I’d tell them but it has never gotten aggressive. I imagine that it’s worse for young people. These people don’t know that things have changed and young people make money in much easier ways than we used to in our time so they’ll probably be angry if they saw a young guy with a car, looking nice.
The thing with the military and armed forces in Nigeria is that they all need one form of reform or another. If we’re trying to say “End SARS”, we should also probably say “End police” or “End the military”. Recently I heard that some soldiers raped a girl at a road block in Ondo State. We can’t say “End the military”. SARS definitely needs to be reformed and reoriented, and not ended, just like many other military bodies in Nigeria.
2. Biola, 53
It’s with this outbreak I found out that SARS harasses, exploits and kills young people. I thought they were this special unit that is effective in covet operations and taking down criminals and people associated with criminals. I was shocked when my daughter told me about them and how they operate. Has it now become a crime to be young in Nigeria?
Amidst all of this though, what is at the top of my mind is that if this thing is so serious, why is the media not covering it? Are they being told not to talk about it?
3. Peter, 57
I understand what these young people are suffering. In 1994, shortly before I got married, I had my own experience with SARS. It wasn’t so pleasant. Moving around, I’ve also seen some boys get harassed, but I thought it was just extortion. I didn’t know they were killing people as well. That’s terrible.
4. Uche, 58
I heard about it but it’s not really my business. If they want to protest, they should protest. Me I just came back from church and all that’s on my mind is what I’m going to eat.
5. Thomas, 58
It is sheer arrogance, insanity, and power-drunkenness that will make you kill a fellow human being. I know that when they were introduced, SARS was instrumental in curbing the endemic that was prevalent at the time. Kudos to them for that. But over the years, they’ve grown wings. They think they’re gods now. And it’s because they have the power to detain, investigate and prosecute people. Yahoo yahoo is a crime, yes. But are the punishments not specified in our penal codes?
My take? Don’t end SARS, reform it. The scrapping of SARS at this time will create a flourishing market for cybercrime operators. Being a very technical and specialized crime, it will require the deployment of new officers that would have to be properly trained in this field of crime detection. If the government decides to scrap SARS, those who are going to perform their functions, will they not be Nigerians? For as long as those who will take over from SARS will be Nigerians, it is delusional to expect complete institutional transformation. Like every rotten system and institution in Nigeria, what should be done to SARS is a reformative overhaul of the Unit that will purge it of all its iniquities.
In the reform process, those among them whose records of performance are scandalous, disgraceful, damaging and below par should be dismissed summarily. Those with manageable records of several warnings and reprimands can be given orderly room trials to determine their post-reprimand behaviour. Those with excellent professional records and no misdemeanours should be retained and motivated with career palliatives and commendation letters.
6. Lekan, mid 50s
I recently read somewhere that anyone who isn’t joining people to condemn SARS right now has never experienced them, and does not have family meembers who have experienced them. It’s true. These SARS people have made themselves gods. They are a huge problem, and I love the fact that young people are going out to protest. I have heard so, so many true stories about innocent victims of these people, so I know they’re a problem.
During service today, there were peaceful protesters moving around the church, and suddenly SARS operatives came with tear gas and started smoking the entire place up. We had to end service because church was filled with tear gas. And these protesters were peaceful o. The police needs to be more mature. They have a job to protect us, and if they can’t they need to be ended.
7. Mr. T, 51
The concept of SARS is not terrible. Nigeria made it terrible. I have done a lot of interstate road travelling and I have seen seen a lot of SARS harassments. Nigerians have the right to protest peacefully, and I’m proud they’re doing just that.