Apparently fed up with the increasing impunity of officers of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police have gone about their duties, Nigerians from all works of life have begun a social media drive aimed at scraping the unit.
The demand to scrap SARS is being championed by the hashtag #EndSARS and is dominated by hundreds of complaints of people who have either fallen victim to the squad or their family members.
The hashtag was littered with complaints of wanton and illegal arrests, acts of extra-judicial killings, physical assaults, intimidation, accusations of fraud and forcefully dispossessing people of their money and properties.
Already, a petition has been started on citizengo.org tasking the federal government, the National Assembly and the police to put a stop to the reign of impunity.
The campaign which was started by Segun Awosanya read this: “For over 10 years now the growing criminal activities of the Nigeria Police with emphasis on the SARS across Nigeria has been a topical discourse, until recently when it took a deadly turn.
“Thousands of reports pour in daily on the activities of these deadly and lawless bunch (SARS), with evidence backed accusations of extra judicial killings, robberies at gun point and torture.
“The Nigeria Police set up to protect the people are now a major threat to our society, torturing (youthful) victims with complete impunity while instilling a toxic climate of fear, intimidation and corruption.
“The social media is awash with eyewitness reports as well as victim accounts of this seeming legal racket across Nigerian states.
“The pattern of human rights violations where victims are arrested and tortured until they either make a false confession to free themselves and/or be marched to an ATM machine to cough out a huge sum as bribe as a mandatory condition for release.
“Our youths are now endangered and more cases of extortion, torture and extra judicial killings (after which victims are labelled as cultists or robbers) are on the rise on the daily.
“There seem to be a huge cover up here and the undersigned citizens call upon the Nigerians legislature for an immediate intervention.
“A few commissioners of police have been helpful (case in point, Lagos) leading to the apprehension of some of these criminals with subsequent charges by competent courts but there’s a lot more work to be done as more cases surface even as we speak.”
In another petition to the National Assembly he said, “The activities of the SARS across Nigeria is tainting the image of the Nigerian Police. We have been following up on diverse cases for over two years now and we must say that it has since escalated to an alarming rate.
“The public feedback on social media as well as editorials in the print media is alarming to the point that it seems we have the very same criminals in the society in the police as we speak and this calls for the declaration of a State of Emergency on our policing.
“On behalf of Nigerians under siege and those who are not lucky enough to survive the onslaught of the SARS, may we humbly ask that you address this?
“It will go a long way for citizens to know you are listening and that they have at least representation at the helms that understand the duty of care our leaders owe to the people.
“Our hearts are broken as we speak with the feedbacks received across Nigeria on SARS’ illegal and exploitative activities with impunity.
“Nigerians are now demanding that the SARS be scrapped and the Police reformed.”
Other Nigerians who learnt their voice include Miller Ham who said, “Sometimes, one of the reasons you don’t see SARS or other members of NPF at a robbery scene is because they are involved in the robbery.
“They are either the robbers themselves, or are providing the robbers with support (i.e weapons, Intel etc). #EndSARS.”
Chinko Ekun said: “The brutality by SARS should be looked into and apprehended. They’re meant to protect and not instill unnecessary fear in the heart of youths. The incessant killings and harassment should stop. #EndSARS.”
Christopher Okagbare also said: “Enough of the humiliation, intimidation, extortion and murder. Every well meaning Nigerian must lend their voice. #EndSARS Now!”
Meanwhile, reacting to the recent brutalisation of a citizen by SARS officers, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, said victims can reach out to the command to lay their complaints.
In a statement by the state police spokesman, SP Chike Oti, the CP
said: “In view of this, the commissioner of police wishes to encourage all residents of Lagos state who have complaints against police action or on any issue, to report to any of the police patrol vehicles which now serves as mini police station.
“They are parked conspicuously at vantage points across the state. They can also call on the Citizen Complaint Centre (CCC) established by the present commissioner of police through some cellular phone numbers.
“The cellular numbers include; 08067945296, 08063025274,
08089781657, 08126404930 and
“The commissioner of police further enjoins members of the public to take advantage of these complaint channels as matters reported will be treated speedily and the outcome made public in the usual frank manner.”
Similarly, the Police Public Complaint Response Unit (PCRRU), while responding, said it has opened channels through which the public can report complaints.
The unit made this call through a poster which they made public on their official Twitter handle.
According to the PCRRU, anyone with a complaint against SARS should call the following listed numbers; 08057000001 and 08057000001 for calls; 08057000003 for SMS and WhatsApp messages; 2BA2B5DE for BlackBerry messages; @PoliceNG_PCRRU for Twitter and www.facebook.com/PolicePCRRU for Facebook messages.
For those with access to email, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com was provided while www.npf.gov.ng/complaint was provided as the website.
The unit assured Nigerians through the poster that complaints would be handled swiftly as they purportedly do not tolerate impunity.