2005 was 28 years after Fela Anikulapo-Kuti released 'Sorrow, Tears and Blood,' on which he decried the brutal abuse of office by Nigerian men in uniform.
That year, Nigerian legend, D’banj dropped his critically acclaimed debut studio album, No Long Thing. At track seven on the album was a song titled, ‘Mr. Olopa.' It narrated his ordeal at the hands of the members of the Nigerian Police Force simply because he was a young man driving a drop-top sports car on the streets of Lagos.
In the song, D’banj narrated how his windscreen was broken, how Don Jazzy was charged as an assessory after the fact for doing nothing and how his parents were cursed by members of the Nigerian Police Force one Friday evening, on his way to the club.
His offence as he sang in the first verse was that he drove a drop-top and looked like he wasn’t in the corporate world. It which made him, “…that one…”
D’banj even goes ahead to attribute some of the issues to jealousy. In fact, D’banj narrated how simply for protesting, he was maliciously said to have smoked “high-grade” (weed) and was charged for robbery. His right to a phone call was also rejected and he feared assault simply for driving a drop-top vehicle.
ALSO READ: Victim profiling in Nigeria
A little further back in May 2005, Nigeria’s now-defunct supergroup, P-Square released their sophomore album, Get Squared.
At track three was a track titled, ‘Oga Police.’ It also chronicled the ills of Nigerian law enforcement. The long and short story was how a young man got arrested by members of the Nigerian Police Force (whatever command) simply for driving in his own car.
In both cases are worrying cases of victim profiling that have since festered.
It’s 2020 - 14 years after P-Square’s song and 13 years after D’banj’s song. Here we are with a problem that continually festers simply because the government has blatantly refused to check and balance the Nigerian Police Force.
The plague of SARS
In the third quarter of 2018, the clamour for the cancellation of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) boiled over after problems of victim profiling meant Nigerian youth was continually victimized at the hands of gullible judges of character, incessantly abusing their office for cheap bribes.
Anything from having dreadlocks to owning and carrying a Laptop or having a car as a young Nigerian are adjudged as wealth through illegality – in most cases, the infamous yahoo yahoo, since glorified by singer, Naira Marley.
On Dark Poet's 'Ripple Effect' featuring MI Abaga, Falz encapsulates the madness, "I con see small small boys wey dey form status, wan dey pose like say na them dey run Lagos. If them talk any how them go go station. They are just eating money but they don't labour. Omo 20'something years ton wa E-class, he is either doing fraud or its rituals.
"But see I like you, you na real guy. Just gimme Hennessy make I feel fine..."
Regular people continually get harassed while the same members of SARS are cohorts in the complex problems of internet fraud currently plaguing the country’s reps on a global scale.
#EndSARS and the political chess move
#EndSARS became a viral hashtag championed by Segun ‘Segalink’ Awosusi. Legendary rapper, Ruggedman and legal firm, Citizen Gavel became leaders in the campaign.
Suddenly, in what seemed both then and now, a calculated political chess move, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ordered a restructuring of SARS under a new brand, Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) - like the name was ever the problem and not the people constituting the name.
We were proved right in the first week of 2019 when news surfaced that photojournalist, Yinka Badmus had been unlawfully detained for about a week for simply having dreadlocks for hair. He was allegedly accused of cultism amongst other things. We knew not that FSARS was only getting warmed up for the atrocities to be committed later in the year.
Due to the now viral coverage SARS issues get, every issue that previously sailed under the radar now gets fed directly to social media streams and channels in real time. Thus, everything FSARS does now gets amply coverage.
This is a country of all-black people, where racism is not an issue, tribal stereotypes has not even been proven to influence SARS brutality either - at lease, not yet, but police brutality continues.
In 2019, Kolade Johnson and Ada Ifeanyi were documented killings by members of SARS and the Nigerian Police respectively.
One comical, yet material facet on this issue is how the Buhari administration was initially led by immense magnanimity after months and years of clamour, that it so conveniently ‘restructured’ SARS in the months leading up to election, only to again go deaf after it got re-elected into office.
The government doesn't care for its innocent citizens who continually get slaughtered in the streets. They only demand the institution of their rights from law enforcement that deems itself bigger than the law it supposedly seeks to enforce. We live in an – for a lack of better diction – interesting country.
On October 4, 2020 - just days after the country pointlessly celebrated its independence yet again, Nigerian celebrities bandied together to face the Nigerian political elites as another one bit the dust at the hands of FSARS.
Have a great Monday evening and make sure you always carry your ID Card.
As you ruminate on this issue, enjoy 'Johnny' by Falz;