In any ideal society, the sight of security agents would bring comfort and high sense of safety for citizens. But here in Nigeria, the scenario is different, as the impunity of men in uniform constitutes grave danger to citizens.
This is the sad reality that Nigerians, especially youth, are frequently exposed to in the hands of Special Anti-robbery Squad, infamously known as SARS. While SARS is a special unit in the Nigerian Police and set up to curb violent crimes, such as robbery, kidnapping and other related crimes, it has turnaround to become a vicious and gruesome squad that is now dreaded by Nigerians.
Whether on the road or elsewhere, the conduct of SARS are no different from the criminal elements they were supposed to checkmate. As a result of their incessant harassments, and sometimes, maiming and extrajudicial killings, many Nigerians have lost trust in them and are wary to trust their safety on those who have become their tormentor.
That is something that has been going on for sometime now and public outcry for authority to do something, has received little or no attention. Just yesterday, many Nigerians took to the social media to highlight the varying abuses of SARS and impressed on the authority to reform or disband the unit that seem to have gone rogue.
This is because SARS has outlived its purpose, and worse, presents themselves as the same dangerous evil they are created to solve. Few weeks ago, three young Nigerians suffered fatal car crash in Osogbo, the Osun state capital, and lost their lives as a result of a hot chase from SARS officers, when there is nothing to suggest they are criminals.
That is the experience everywhere, and for sometimes now, stirred huge concern from Nigerians, who keep sounding to the hears of the authority that SARS should be disbanded. The impunity of SARS is horrendous as at any given opportunity, they inflict crude forces on citizens, and in some instances, reign bullets on Nigerians without justification.
Stories of Nigerians unlawfully picked up on the streets, beaten and extorted or maimed, were daily heard, leaving many people worried about their safety in the hands of those who should ideally protect them. SARS impunity and uncanny attitude have turned a nightmare for the people and this is quite evident in the outpour of criticisms against them by Nigerians, who are demanding for their end.
Disturbingly, SARS often view any successful young Nigerians as criminals, and in turn, harass, molest and forcefully extort them before they can gain their freedom. Those who choose to exercise their rights are subjected inhumane treatments, and sometimes, killed without any consequence.
Nigerians do not deserve to be terrorized by those who should protect them and make sure no arm comes their ways. With the outlook of SARS activities, it is certain that they are not interested in fighting crimes they were set up to do, but to use their firearms advantage to intimidate and inflict unbearable pains on Nigeria.
The pains they have wrought on Nigerians are quite huge and a review of the experience of people, which are daily shared on social media, is enough to know that #EndSARS is the only way out of this mess. If not, no one may be spared from the unending cruel and strong-arm tactics of SARS, and that will be too fatal for the country to bear.
Since SARS has shown overtime that it could not be trusted with the safety of Nigerians, then government should waste no time in dismantling the squad of terror. Enough of watching promising Nigerians lost to indisciplined lots, who think they are above board because they bear firearms.
Buhari made a vow to keep Nigerians safe, and having a unit of a security agent become a threat to citizens, is nothing but a blight he should not waste time to do away with. From the look of things, it is clear that SARS is averse to reforms and the most potent approach to bring an end to their rampaging impunity is to get the unit scrapped.
I joined millions of Nigerians in the call to #EndSARS so as to keep everyone safe from their recklessness and impunity.
Ibrahim Sarafa is a writer and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org