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Should SARS Be Put To An End?

James Ademuyiwa, a social media marketer, does not believe the police is a friend. After two nasty experiences with men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Abeokuta and Lagos, his disposition is more than justified.

The first time he was arrested for committing no crime, he was walking down a street in the Ogun State capital. Immediately tagged a Yahoo boy — the Nigerian label for an internet fraudster — without evidence or justification, his phone was confiscated.

End to police brutality. Photo: Reuters

Without asking any questions, knowing he would be saving himself from wounds or bloody harassment, he handed them his phone. Nothing incriminating was found on it. Yet, he was told he had to pay to ‘bail’ himself.

James’ encounters with the now dreaded police squad mirror thousands of others by young Nigerians, with some ending in fatalities.

“No police officer should violate the rights of even criminals,” says Segun Awosanya, a convener of the #EndSARS #ReformPoliceNG Movement. “But here, we have people who break the law under the guise of upholding the law; people who take the laws into their hands under substance abuse to do whatever they want. And they believe nothing will happen.”

Awosanya and others like him are spearheading a nationwide campaign aimed at the abolition of the anti-robbery squad and reformation of the entire police force.

The #EndSARS campaign began on social media to protest the activities of the police unit which have been accused of extortion, harassment, robbery, intimidation and extra-judicial killings. There have also been public demonstrations for and against the continued existence of the dreaded anti-crime unit of the Nigeria Police Force.

This begs the question: should the unit be scrapped or is there still hope through reformation?

Pick up a copy of Guardian Life this Sunday as we look into the history of the special unit, asking the questions that matter.

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