End SARS Now, And Save The Lives Of Nigerian Youths

By Ikenga Chronicles December 4, 2017

End SARS Now, And Save The Lives Of Nigerian Youths

A very popular Twitter user wrote:

“If you have no experience with SARS officials, you won’t understand this daily outcry. Once you have an iPhone, drive a car, have beards, YOU WILL PAY!#EndSARS now! ”

This is just in line with several outcries from young people all over Nigeria, calling on the Federal Government to end the reign of impunity being perpetrated all over the country by officers of the Special Anti-Roberry Squad(SARS).The stories are not peculiar to particular states. Even though people from some states may try to politicize it, the general experience is that officers of SARS are now feared more than armed robbers and kidnappers. And indeed they are sometimes(as given backing by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike), the kidnappers that people encounter everyday.

Stories abound of how men of SARS daily harass young people on the road.It is not just about having a laptop and iPhone with you, no, it goes beyond that. Most times, just having a tattoo on your body is proof to them that you are a “criminal”!Then, if you are unfortunate enough to be young, own a laptop and iPhone, have a tattoo on, and then drive a good car, you are done.Not done in the sense that you will really be investigated and properly prosecuted, but done in the sense that SARS will “bill” you highly. For them, it is all about how much they can blackmail or torture you into giving them.

Just having a tattoo brings a charge of N30,000. Being found in a good car, owning a laptop or iPhone make the bill higher. That is what Nigerian youths daily deal with. As they step out of their houses, trying to find their daily bread, in a country severely ravaged by leadership failure and corruption, they move around scared of the menace that is SARS. The little money they find, suddenly becomes some kind of payment to “Mafias”in the name of SARS.

The campaign to end SARS is therefore simply a call to the Government to try and eliminate a cartel that has become vicious predators on Nigerian youths. There is no need to say “reform” them as everyone knows that there is no way their excesses can be monitored. The best thing to do is to scrap them completely. Alternatively, they should just be stationed at Police stations, and be made to only go out when an armed robbery or kidnapping call is made to the stations. Letting them patrol the streets opens up the avenue for them to intimidate and extort young people.

Generally, when issues like the #EndSARS campaign come up, people find a way to politicize it. For instance, members of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in Rivers State, see the #EndSARS campaign as a ploy to stifle the security arm of the party in the state(SARS commander in the state, Akin Fakorede is a strong supporter of the APC leader in the state, Chibuike Amaechi, and so normally, APC members in the state see SARS as the security arm they will use to rig elections in 2019). That should not be the case, as what is paramount is the wellbeing of Nigerian youths. To that end then, politics should be kept aside so that the criminality of SARS can be checked. When SARS operatives intimidate young people on the streets, they do not first ask them their party affiliation. So politics should completely be taken out of the equation.

The lives and progress of Nigerian youths are at stake here. #EndSARS is not just another hashtag, but rather an SOS by Nigerian youths. It is one that should be taken very seriously by those in power. Something has to be done, and done very quickly.