Nigerians protest against SARS online.
SARS is a unit of the Nigeria Police Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department. Within the last two years, SARS has been a pain in the neck of Nigerians, especially young adults.
This weekend has seen these young adults take to Twitter to protest the activities of SARS which include (alleged) extortion, illegal arrest, illegal detention and indiscriminate use of firearms.
The hashtag #EndSARS has been tweeted thousands of times this weekend. In some of the tweets, Nigerians speak about their experience at the hands of SARS operatives. Some of them are pretty ugly. You can read some below;
The Nigerian police have responded to the trend. On Saturday, December 2, 2017, the Nigerian Police Force provided hot lines for Nigerians to call if they had complaints about SARS.
"Do you have any complaints about your contact with SARS?
You don’t need to know their names, all we need you to provide are details of the occurrence (action/act) with DATE, TIME & PLACE.
Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) #BailisFree #NoToImpunity.
Please share this message" tweeted the official Twitter account of the Nigeria Police Force.
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has also reacted to the trend. Atiku who recently dumped the APC as he readies his presidential bid tweeted.
"The arbitrary harassment of young Nigerians by Police (who should be protecting them) has no place in a democratic society. The #EndSARS protest shows Nigerian youth are upset and the matter needs urgent attention."
He also tweeted "Everyday, we encourage our young people to become entrepreneurs. Buying a laptop to earn a living shouldn’t attract harassment."
SARS operatives are notorious for profiling young Nigerians who have a laptop, own expensive phones and drive cars.
In June 2017, a young man Patrick (not real name) narrated how he was picked up by SARS operatives. He was later called a cultist and arrested.
On September 23, 2016, Pulse published a story titled "SARS: Meet the Police Unit with license to kill". The story featured quotes from an anonymous man who spoke on how he was detained illegally by SARS and how he almost died.
A day after Amnesty International published its report, the Nigerian Police Force issued a statement denying the report.