An operative of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) on Saturday allegedly killed a Remo Stars Football Club’s player, Tiyamu Kazeem, (popularly known as Kaka).
This happened just three days after two traders were shot dead in broad daylight by other SARS operatives in Abeokuta.
Barbaric treatments of people in the hands of SARS in Nigeria are not new.
There are numerous cases on the excesses of some of the operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad all over the country.
But it was unfortunate that none of the cases gained the attention of the authority until the youths took the EndSars protests to the street.
According to Amnesty International, SARS committed 82 cases of brutality and extra judicial killings of innocent Nigerians.
And on three occasions, a document containing all the cases was reportedly submitted to the Inspector General of Police for investigation.
But until now, there was no report on any action which the police might have taken on those cases.
EndSars movement emerged on social media as a call for the disbandment of SARS in Nigeria.
But due to the failure of the government to take a stringent action about the matter, people were continued to be brutalized by the police and nothing was done about it.
As a result of this, the EndSARS movement metamorphosed from social media into peaceful protests in Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, Osun, Benin, Delta, Ilorin, Owerri and other major cities within the country, demanding for total disbandment of SARS.
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How did we get here?
When you approach your bank to receive money on the platform of Western Union or any related international money transfer service, it’s possible you’re mistaken for a Yahoo boy.
Whereas internet fraudsters in a Nigerian context are referred to as Yahoo boys.
Many people thought most Nigerians were using inbound money transfer services to defraud foreign people.
Even if that was true, how did it warrant barbaric treatments of people in the hands of SARS or police?
Are police meant to unlawfully arrest, detain, torture and extort people?
Following the unlawful killing of Tiyamu Kazeem, it was disturbing to realize how some people were trying to justify SARS actions.
Some people believed, when you dress in a certain way with your hair tinted, ears pierced or when you stay in hotels, go to clubs, drive exotic vehicles and use iPhones, you’re most likely going to be harassed by SARS.
So, I want to know where is that mentality coming from?
Most times, when I’m travelling in a public vehicle, I punch my phone because I don’t like to be idle.
As a creative writer, I use the calm moment on my trips to think and write.
Whenever we approached security operatives on the highway, other passengers in the vehicle would caution me quietly to hide my phone.
In their thin voices, they would say:
Without minding them, I asked myself, “Why should I hide my phone?”
Since I din’t have anything incriminating on my phone, I had always ignored such cautions.
But yet, I couldn’t blame those good people.
What if they knew I was an innocent as I’ve always been, but thought the security operatives would see it the other way round?
Because SARS were fond of harassing people when they saw you with smartphones, it really warranted taking extra caution with them.
The question is how can the use of Western Union or pressing of phones in transit make someone a Yahoo boy?
Based on my own personal experience with SARS operative about 10 years ago, I believe bankers contributed to the barbaric treatments of people in the hands of SARS in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, almost every beneficiary of Western Union had been abused at a point in time.
You might leave the bank and a team of Special Anti-Robbery Squad would lay ambush for you on your way home.
Someone in the bank might have sold you out and they wanted their shares in the money you came to collect.
How SARS get to know about your transactions?
This was the question I asked myself the day I had an encounter with the rogues recruited into SARS.
I won’t say much about that for now.
But the point is there was a link between SARS and people working in the bank as there was a similar relationship between bankers and Yahoo boys in Nigeria.
All of them didn’t relate by coincidence, but as an organized network to perpetrate their wrong deeds.
Because of this existing relationship, what came to most people’s minds when you mentioned Western Union in front of them was that “Maga done pay!”
In order words, the slang means that you have succeeded in defrauding someone and everybody wanted to have a cut in the proceeds.
As a result of this mentality, most SARS operatives lost their minds and went haywire.
And most of their victims died in the struggle to refuse arrest.
Just of recent, Nigerian youths took the barbaric treatments of innocent people in the hands of SARS to social media with the hashtag #EndSARS.
Changing the mindset
Western Union was never for scam.
Using the service for fraudulent activities was as a result of abuse and that happened as much as people defrauded their foreign friends.
The service is meant for international money transfer – to transfer or receive money from one country or the other.
People only use the service for different reasons.
Those who use it to defraud their gullible foreign friends are to be blamed, not to be killed except the court orders.
Barbaric treatments of people in the hands of SARS in Nigeria is an indication that the Nigeria Police Force has no respect for anti-torture law.
This is an attitude that we must collectively condemn in our democratic society.
If some of the operatives are compromised, the government shouldn’t be afraid to take responsibility.
I don’t support SARS should be abolished but reformed. Police brutality is what should be ended.
Part of the reformation is for the government to investigate all the cases on ground and mercilessly deal with the culprits in SARS.
To end SARS could be Yahoo boys tactics to evade arrest in Nigeria.
If you’re an innocent, these 8 things can help you avoid SARS brutality.
If the agency is regulated, the bad eggs among them will be exposed. And that can make others demonstrate a high level of professionalism.
On the part of individuals that go to the bank, the current situation warrants a lot of caution.
Whenever you have the cause to approach your bank for a similar transaction, most especially to receive funds from overseas, ensure you don’t leave the bank with cash.
Do everything you have to do online and make sure your transaction is clean.
The person attending to you might be a mole. So, keep your eyes on him.
What is your own view about the barbaric treatments of people in the hands of SARS?
Do you support EndSARS movement?