Why I am supporting #EndSARS campaign – Ruggedman
Nigerian rapper Michael Ugochukwu Stephens also known as Ruggedman has said his involvement with #EndSARS campaign is aimed at ending the reign of brutality allegedly perpetrated by the Nigerian Police’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
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.
“I am involved because I am a Nigerian,” Ruggedman told The Guardian during a telephone interview. The interview was conducted as part of Guardian Life‘s cover story slated for publication on Sunday.
“I am hardworking and not a lazy Nigerian youth. I have a conscience and never liked the idea of watching people get bullied unfortunately that is what sars has become,” said Ruggedman.
In April, he released a video for his song, “Is Police Your Friend”, which deals with the issue of police brutality.
When asked if he has had any experience with the squad, Ruggedman said his only close experience with SARS came when his brother was arrested for no just cause.
“SARS stopped my brother, asked for his ID card. They pocketed it and asked him for money. He said he did have money. They took him around Lagos for about 3 hours with some other innocent people. They were eventually taken to Area H police station.”
“He called me and I contacted police PRO, Dolapo Badmus, who made sure everyone illegally arrested was released.”
He said the idea of the men and officers on the squad randomly picking up young Nigerians going about their lawful businesses and intimidate them into paying for their freedom was a bully tactic that should not be condoned.
He said “Whether they want to scrap or reform they should be taken off the street. They are special anti-robbery squad and should be out only when there is need to.”
A 2016 report by Amnesty International indicates that persons detained by SARS, both men and women, “are subjected to various methods of torture and ill-treatment in order to extract information and ‘confessions’. Such methods include severe beating, hanging, starvation, shooting in the legs, mock executions and threats of execution.”