The Police Is Your Friend And Other Fables.

April 3, 2019

If you’ve happened to breathe air in Nigeria, or stepped within a square inch outside of your Nigerian home, then chances are, you have faced some type of police harassment.

 

Infact, it’s a certainty. And I’m willing to stake anything on the claim.

Whether it’s their quotidian ‘anything for the boys?’, or the more brash – ‘open your boot’ or ‘stop and search’ without any real grounds for suspicion, their wantonness in exerting powers is something that has gone on for so long, it now serves as routine and the butt of many a joke.

Their deviousness however goes beyond these almost petty annoyances to more worrying traits arbitrary arrests,  grievous bodily harm accorded to obtain information or even routinely substituting wanted suspects for their blameless relatives where said subject is missing are just some of the wiles adopted by the police.

 

The SARS Menace

From 1992 however, the face of the NPF’s harassment took on a new form, in its Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Originally mandated to fight the spate of robberies laying siege on Nigerian highways and streets, their gazes shifted from genuine robbers and marauders, who may have been a little too mainstream, and went instead for confoundingly smaller fish — the everyday, regular Nigerian.

What started as tiny grumbles on social media  — a disgruntled student complaining about being stopped and searched here, another narrating how he was obtained by SARS there; soon graduated  to more severe grievances.

Whispers of plain clothed policemen in unmarked cars, laying seige on unsuspecting motorists and pedestrians first made the rounds. Then it escalated to loud grumbles of routine roundups in the most unlikely places sport bars after working hours, betting centres; before culminating in a thunderous shout, heard on social media platforms the world over in 2017, the message was resonant — ‘The Nigerian police had to be stopped.’

Stories ranged from the absurd

To the downright heartbreaking

https://www.informationng.com/2017/11/10-year-old-hawker-killed-stray-bullet-sars-operative-graphic-photos.html

Hundreds and hundreds of stories similar to these plagued the internet for weeks on end, under the #EndSARS tag. Just about every conceivable evil that can be meted out to a man, had been carried out or attempted by officials of the Nigerian SARS.

 

Most chilling is the dubbing of Nigerian police stations in Lagos and Abuja as ‘abbattoirs’. Police stations with their spattering of ‘Police is your friend’ and ‘bail is free’ posters, became widely accepted as points of no return for a fraction of the citizens that happened to fall victim to arrest.

Serving and protecting the citizens held no real meaning for the majority of the police force, so they proceeded to do anything but, so the government had to act.

 

Better concerned with saving face and putting an end to the outcry; the very inadequate solution of disbanding the SARS Unit of the NPF was ordered.

 

Rather than taking the time out to understand the circumstances that could lead a purportedly trained officer to shoot and kill an unarmed citizen for a fraction of 100 or what could spur the transformation  of his duty post into  an illicit income source and the sort of discontent that could drive him to surmise anyone using a reasonably priced phone must be engaged in some sort of fraud — rather than doing anything but providing a quick fix; the easier path was chosen, and by August 2018, ‘SARS’ came to be no more.

 

 

 

The Aftermath Of SARS

For those assumed the scrapping of SARS would bring with it automatic calm where the police were concerned, then they got only a short-lived reprieve

 

They remained the public’s number one enemy, flouting police checkpoints as illegal toll points and harassing unsuspecting victims. Before long, word began to spread again of SARS officials maiming citizens, and by March 31st 2019, another life- Kolade Johnson had been claimed at the hands of policemen, this time members of the Special Anti-Cultism Squad; who thought it a reasonable thing to shoot live rounds in the air to disperse a crowd, while innocent passersby where about.

 

Their original mission was the capture of a man whose dreadlocks, ridiculously served as a marker that he was into something untoward.

In no time, calls to #EndSARS and cries against the police made trends around social media, and it appears that the 2017 cycle is likely to be rinsed and repeated; with maybe the Anti-Cultism Squad facing the axe this time round.

 

Without proper appraisals, these tragic incidents are only bound to repeat themselves, with more heart-wrenching stories as time passes. It is not enough to clip a fingernail where the whole appendage is infected, the police force requires urgent reform, and they need it this minute.

 

They will remain unapproachable, merciless, unrepentant menaces to the public until some real action that sparks a change in their orientation comes to be.

 

We can only hope  that this reform comes to be, before more lives are needlessly lost.

Boyin Plumptre

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

September 25, 2020

On Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the new Police Establishment Act 2020, aimed at making the Nigerian police force better. But the new law has generated sharp criticism, especially on social media. Many critics say that the law has now granted wide and unending powers to police officers. Reasonable Grounds, Reasonable Apprehension The […]

October 23, 2019

Now, I don’t mean to alarm everyone that gets their senate entertainment from Kogi West Senator – Dino Melaye, but there is a chance our guy might be leaving the Senate, come November 16th. Remember how back in February, Dino gave us this little show after being declared winner of his senatorial race over Smart […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

July 23, 2021

On Saturday, July 24, 2021, the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) will conduct an election to elect the next chairman and councillors in the 20 local government areas and the 37 local council development areas in the state.  Why should you care about this? Provisions in the 1999 constitution and the Electoral Act of […]

July 23, 2021

Romantic relationships bring different changes to our lives. Some welcome, some not. In this article, five Nigerian women talk about how their partners changed their lives.  Bisola, 23 I grew up in a conservative space but I always knew I wanted to explore certain things and with the help of my current partner, I am […]

July 23, 2021

What’s not to love about ATMs? If you just ignore the long queues, bad network, and occasional swallowing of cards, ATMs are a lifesaver.  They do their jobs and let you go about your day. But what if you were stuck in a parallel universe where ATMs could speak? It’s 5 a.m. A young man […]

July 23, 2021

BBNaija season is upon us, and that means that for the next couple of weeks, Nigerians will gather online to talk and argue about a show they love. While all of this is happening, some nincompoops will decide that they want to be villains and start spewing BBNaija hate speech. If you’re one of those […]

Recommended Quizzes

October 10, 2019

2019 is certainly Burna Boy’s year, but, if we are being honest, so was 2018. Since his transcendent mixtape, Outside, the afro-fusion star has refused to get his foot of our necks — dropping a string of fantastic singles and then capping it all off with his career-best album, African Giant.  So, in a bid […]

December 11, 2019

In the past month, we’ve made quizzes that guessed the last time you had sex, how many people you’ve slept with, and just how good you are in bed. For our latest attempt, we will use your taste in Nigerian music from the 2010s to ascertain what you’re like in bed. Take to find out:

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

November 12, 2019

Are you a single pringle, stuck in a complicated situationship or happily married to the love of your life? This quiz is here to guess your current relationship status, and as you know, Zikoko quizzes are incredibly accurate (don’t quote us). So, give a shot:

More from Citizen

July 23, 2021

On Saturday, July 24, 2021, the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) will conduct an election to elect the next chairman and councillors in the 20 local government areas and the 37 local council development areas in the state.  Why should you care about this? Provisions in the 1999 constitution and the Electoral Act of […]

July 23, 2021

You probably haven’t heard about the country on today’s Abroad Life. It’s Curaçao— a small island in the Caribbean. Today’s subject moved there in 2019, and talks about the country, its people, and why she thinks it’s very similar to Nigeria. When did you decide that you wanted to leave Nigeria? This isn’t the first […]

July 2, 2021

From intriguing stories about fraudsters in Malaysia to heartbreaking stories about child slavery, I’ve shared some brilliant stories worth documenting about Nigerians and their unique experiences abroad. Because we’ve just passed the half year mark, I’m deciding to share the most-read Abroad Life stories from this year. Enjoy. 1. “I Went From Earning ₦20,000 to […]

July 2, 2021

Today’s subject on Abroad Life is a 24-year-old woman who moved to the UK last year after getting ghosted by someone she just met. She talks about quitting her frustrating job in Nigeria, meeting a guy and leaving the country because he suddenly stopped talking to her.  When did you decide that you wanted to […]

June 28, 2021

How to register for PVC online- The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has launched the process for eligible Nigerian voters to register to vote in the 2023 general elections by opening an online portal for registration for Permanent Voters Card. Who needs this article? Nigerians above 18 who are eligible to vote, and have not […]

June 25, 2021

Today’s subject on Abroad Life is a 32-year-old woman who left Nigeria in 2010 to live with her dad in America. She talks about her dad’s death, moving states, making career choices, getting in $200k debt, and finally becoming financially stable. When did you decide that you wanted to move to the US? Moving to […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X