I have watched and observed the latest #EndSARS protests nationwide and also read many texts, news, watched many videos and also seen many evidence as bases for the protest to end the Nigerian Police unit tagged SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad).
I UNDERSTAND THE PAINS
I have seen a list of names of ordinarily innocent young people whose lives were cut short in the hands of unprofessional, trigger-happy cops in the country. I have seen live videos of police brutality in the nation, with solid evidence that many of these officers have this god-like authority to say they will kill and nothing will happen.
I have seen the agony of parents whose children were taken by the cold hands of death thanks to some bad cops. I have been affected too. In fact, given all the evidence available, the SARS unit has not lived up to the expectations and has not fulfilled in very good way the purpose for which it was formed.
I'm also aware of the many brutality met on young people by the police. Harassment, extortion, humiliation and torture are but a few experiences of young people in the hands of the Naija police all in the name of being alleged YAHOO BOYS.
I also saw a video of a police shooting at close range an unarmed young man inside a bus. That's gross. These are enough to cause a global uproar.
POLICE BRUTALITY: WE'RE NOT ALONE
As regards police brutality, Nigeria is not a peculiar case. It's not in Nigeria alone. It's all over the world, even in the most civilized societies.
"I can't breath" - painfully cried George Floyd as he was being choked to death by a cop. He was unarmed. He died later from the incidence. With what consequences? National and global protest - the #BlackLivesMatter protest. That's just a single case in the US - supposedly one of the most civilized nation in the world. Police brutality is all over the world!
That being said, what should we do?
TRUE, WE'RE FED UP. WE'VE REACHED ELASTIC LIMIT, BREAKING POINT
Fact is... When you have reached your breaking point, when you can't take it no more, you'll know. The nationwide protests show that Nigerians have reached breaking point as far as police brutality (not just SARS) is concerned. And the purpose of the protest is not to cause chaos, but rather to send a strong message to the necessary authority, the Federal Government. To #EndSARS
Should we #EndSARS? or rather #ReformSARS, and #EndPoliceBrutality?
WE SHOULD #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY.
Before you attack my opinion, let's run a bit of data across as to why #SARS was formed.
The SARS - Special Anti-Robbery Squad - is a subset of the Nigerian Police Force trained and specifically selected to be tactical unit against armed robbery and other forms of frauds, scams, be it physically or even using other means like the internet. Hence SARS can apprehend internet scammers, the so-called Yahoo Boys. So, SARS and Yahoo Boys are archenemies.
BUT... SARS HAVE HELPED
Truth be told, the SARS have come into play in apprehending many criminals in the past. SARS have helped foil many lethal robberies, rescued many victims, protected us and saved the day many times.
However, like any institution made up of humans, there's always need for moderation and control else, some things will go beyond limit.
I'm disappointed in many celebrities and many famous people who I expect to educate the young people about having a balanced view of this whole #EndSARS move. But rather, they are not saying anything.
WE #NEEDPOLICE in Nigeria
Even if SARS is renamed or scrapped, the police are still there. They are the police.
NOW THAT SARS IS DISBANDED...
Now the IG has dissolved the SARS unit!
If a reform is not done, job done is still zero.
Police brutality is the enemy, not SARS.
What we need the government to do is to reform the police or any other tactical team and moderate the units and also make them accountable.
Making POLICE/SARS accountable will serve to checkmate any trigger-happy cops who would want to 'waste anyone's life' believing nothing will happen!
HOW TO REFORM SARS/POLICE?
1. Train, train and train
For the public to have continued confidence in #SARS or whatever new name they come with, we must be sure they are well trained and professional in their dealings
2. Make police accountable
It's so distressing to hear things like these coming from one who has sworn to protect Nigeria and Nigerians with their lives:
I WILL WASTE YOU AND NOTHING WILL HAPPEN
I KILLED YOUR SON AND NOTHING WILL EVER HAPPEN
I WILL WASTE 29 BULLET ON YOU AND NOTHING WILL HAPPEN
It's more disturbing because these words are not even coming from the armed robbers, it's coming from the protector of the masses to the masses they should be protecting.
3. Policemen should be charged and punished for murders
Trigger-happy cops should be punished and even sentenced in extreme cases. Such measures will moderate the bad cops.
4. Everyone deserves fair hearing, trial and justice
The police should stop the jungle justice! Police cannot just shoot at will. Even the most criminally minded citizen must not be shot at by a cop unless he's certainly armed and poses a threat to the life of the cop. Those are professional etiquette of the police force.
So, that video of a cop killing an unarmed alleged criminal at close range in a yellow bus is an eye-sore. In fact, that cop should be charged at least.
5. The police are not above the law!
Every cop must know this. They are to serve and protect, not extort or intimate or harrass or kill or evade people's privacy.
These being said, as the #EndSARS protest continues, some lives have been lost already in Nigeria. That's rather unfortunate.
Forget not what needs to be achieved: not to just end SARS, but to immediately reform the police and monitor them and fish out and punish any erring bad eggs among them.
We need the police to keep peace and orderliness in the streets. We need the police and their tactical squads to protect the civilization we have all worked for.
Let's cultivate a balanced view on this whole thing.
Let Naija government #ReformSARSNow! And #EndPoliceBrutality.