Other personal reports of manhandling, extortion, and kidnap also followed the same day. It was then that Nigerians on the online space decided that they have had enough.
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A sustained campaign with the #EndSARS hashtag took centre stage in discussions in media well into Sunday and a host of celebrities, home and abroad, had to chip in their thoughts on the SARS menace threatening the life of Nigerian youths.
It is not up to a week that the 60th anniversary of the nation’s independence was commemorated. A lot of Nigerian youth refused to celebrate the moment because of sentiments, like the perception that the government does not acknowledge their existence well enough in a country where the youth constitute over 60% of the total population. Some average Nigerian youth generally feels alienated from governance and the dividends of democracy. This has contributed to the apathy of various definitions from youthful quarters of the nation.
The result of the sustained campaign against online SARS led to a press release via the media channel at the presidency stating the FSARS unit have been disbanded nationwide and must cease operations and harassment of citizens. Meanwhile, records indicate that when a similar furore began online to ban SARS in 2018, after a series of atrocities by the operatives and in response, the federal government also declared that SARS has been banned yet they have been back in operation a long time ago.
This is why some citizens are wont to believe that certain elements of the police branch of law enforcement and crime prevention have gone rogue and are uncontrollable.
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SARS was created primarily to prevent and nip armed robberies in the bud. But over these years, they have graduated to harassing citizens for various unscrupulous purposes unheard of members of law enforcement.
As of press time, a number of government officials have been brow-beaten into making public statements on the issue of SARS and their indiscipline, but the president continued to remain mute on the issue especially when his leadership is much craved. The Minister of Youth and Sport, Mr Sunday Dare and the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, have both expressed their disappointment with the conduct of the police in publicized meetings with the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
However, the strange thing is that Nigerians have, as of today, reported new sightings of the men of the FSARS/SARS unit harassing and forcefully taking citizens away in unmarked vehicles again.
This brings us to some definitive questions:
Does the Inspector General of Police still have the power of oversight on operatives of the SARS unit? Is the said ban another lip service and ruse by the government designed to pacify the public from taking to the streets in protests and ’embarrass’ the government internationally? What can we as a nation infer from the effectiveness of protests starting from online media spaces and ending up on the streets?
One thing is certain, however, Nigerians are done with the incessant harassment they witness daily from these rogue branch of the police who have made it their primary duty to oppress citizens rather than protect them.
Featured Image Source: Femi Oyesile
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