Tears filled the eyes of Jimoh Raji Atanda 52, the father of 20 years old Jimoh Isiaq who was brutally murdered by SARS (Special anti-robbery squad) officers of the Nigerian Police Force on the 10th of October, 2020. The sad incident occurred during the protest by youths calling for the disbandment of the rogue unit. Jimoh Isiaq was shot multiple times, even though he was unarmed and not actively involved in the protest.
People had come to pay a condolence visit to him and to comfort him on the death of his son. Words couldn’t stop the tears from flowing, as he recalled the happy moments he spent with his son. The sorrow around his home was palpable, as he shared the harrowing story about how bullets were extracted from his dying son.
The Nigerian Police force, created in 1820, has always been noted for its notoriety, brute force, and killings, that has left in its wake, thousands of deaths, maim, deformed, and helpless citizens still fighting for justice. The tears and sorrow caused by these men in black, can never be quantified.
The late Afrobeat King Fela Anikulapo Kuti, before his death in 1997 sang a lot about police brutality, government corruption, and the systemic failure of the government in Nigeria. His mother, Chief Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti had a bitter spell in the hands of the state-owned Police.
In 1977, she was thrown from the second floor of her house and died of complications from the injuries she sustained in 1978. Till his death, Fela was a thorn in the flesh of the Nigerian Government, as he was always singing about the ills of the police and the wicked atrocities of the Nigerian Police.
Rollback to 2018 in London, United Kingdom, the current President Muhammadu Buhari during a panel appearance with world leaders at the Commonwealth Business Forum, referred to the Nigerian Youths as “Lazy”. It was a comment that sparked huge outrage back home in Nigeria. The general impression is that the average Nigerian Youth is docile and doesn’t care about the affairs of the country.
This narration however changed on Thursday, October 8th, 2020, when a small pocket of youths staged a protest outside the Lagos State House of Assembly Assembly Complex in Lagos, Nigeria. Their demand was for the scrapping of SARS and an end to police brutality. They came prepared with tents to pass the night and even got assurance about their safety from authorities.
Matters however turned from bad to worse when their tents were destroyed in the middle of the night and their lives were threatened by the same Nigerian Police force they were protesting against. Twitter was awash with an update about the situation, as a popular comedian Debo Adebayo was on the ground at the protest venue.
Pictures of the youths sleeping on bare floor greeted Nigerians the next morning and tension started building up. The heat was intense and the movement became unstoppable. In Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Benin, Ibadan, Owerri, Onitsha, Asaba, and in most states of Nigeria, the demand was clear: “No More SARS, No More Police brutality”.
The hashtag on Twitter was #ENDSARS. Twitter owner Jack Patrick Dorsey even gave his support to the protest by tweeting about it on Wednesday, October 14th, 2020.
The regular trademark of the Nigerian Police has always been tears, sorrow, and blood. The killings have been mind-boggling and most victims cut across sex, age, and class. The youths of recent have been the major target of the Nigerian Police, especially the SARS, as they are always harassed with impunity.
Here’s a roll call of some deaths that have been recorded over the years in the hands of the Nigerian Police. The list is inexhaustible, as more youths are been killed as I make this post
- Chukwuemeka Matthew Onovo
- Chibuike Anams
- Christian Onuigbo
- Chika Ibeku
- Gabriel Ejoor Owoicho
- Precious Odua
- Johnson Nnaemeka
- Stephen Agbanyim
- Chidi Odinauwa
- Azuamaka Victor Maduamago
- Emmanuel Egbo
- Godgift Ferguson Ekerete
- Tony Oruama
- Harry Ataria
- Daniel Adewuyi Tella
- Modebayo Awosika
- Chinedu Ani
- Linda Igwetu
- Tina Ezekwe
- Peter Ofurum
- Rinji Balla Uzziel
- Johnson Kolade
- Tiyamiu Kazeem
- Chima Ikwunado
- Ifeoma Abuga
- Sleek Sunday
- Femi Bello
- Anthony Onome Unuode
- Jimoh Isiaq
- Mus’ab Sammani
- Richard Gora
- Chijioke Iloanya
- Joseph Zita
- Joseph Eidonojie Ugbeni
- Anita Akapson
- Ifeanyi Ozor
- Chinedu Meniru
- Augustina Arebu
- Anthony Nwokike
- Paulinus Ogbonna
- Ekena Isaac Megbe
- Emeka Ojinze
- Ademola Moshood
- Ismaila Anyinla
- Joy Ndubueze
- Ikechukwu IIohamauzo
The list is a sad commentary of the brutal nature of the Nigerian Police, which has seen it been ranked as worst in the world by https://africa-facts.org/botswana-police-ranked-africas-best-nigeria-at-bottom-of-global-report/ These youths have had their dreams cut short. Footballers, musical artists, entrepreneurs, engineers, auto mechanics, students, and hard-working individuals have been sent to their early graves via the excesses of the rogue Nigerian Police Force.
Tears are still flowing freely among victims of police brutality, and the pains caused may take a while to heal, even as the government has scrapped SARS and renamed it as SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics Team). Things have not changed, as tension is still high in most cities across the country, with reported cases of police brutality persisting.
Total Police reform is been advocated, even as the youth have outlined 5 major demands to the government. These demands are:
- Immediate release of all arrested protesters
- Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families
- Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation & prosecution of all reports of police misconduct (within 10 days)
- In line with the new Police Act, psychological evaluation & retraining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be redeployed
- Increase police salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting the lives and property of citizens.
Unfortunately, these demands are yet to be met by the government, even as state-sponsored thugs are been deployed to disrupt the peaceful protest. Cars and equipment were burnt in Abuja and Lagos, even as the Edo State and Lagos State Government have imposed curfew in all parts of the state.
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