As it is the annual tradition for many Christians from around the world to celebrate Christmas, which marks the birth of Jesus Christ, Christians in Nigeria are not left out.
For people of Christian faith, it is time to be merry, to reflect on their salvation, and celebrate an important aspect of the religion, which is ‘Jesus Christ’ — his birth which would have to happen for his death to occur.
Long before December 25th, many Christians would have started getting into their ‘Christmas spirit’, ready to partake from the annual festivities that come with the season. The ‘smell of Christmas’ feels the air, and it could easily register as one of the most beautiful time of the year.
As the day approaches, there are different programmes fixed by corporate bodies, churches, individuals to mark the period.
However, Christmas as lovely and exciting as it may be, comes with its own peculiarities. It’s the period where extra cash are budgeted for shopping, home renovation and decoration, travel, holiday with the family, visiting the less privileged, orphans or motherless babies, sending packages to family members and allies, and so on. These things cost money and when the money is unavailable, Christmas may not look as lively as it should.
INFORMATION NIGERIA took to the streets of Lagos to get reactions from Lagosians on how they spent this year’s Christmas. The focus was to know if this year’s Christmas was better than that of last year — if so, why and if not, why.
It’s the 26th of December, a day after Christmas known popularly as ‘Boxing Day’, a day to continue the festivities of Christmas. Thankfully for many, it is a public holiday around the country, which means another day not to worry about work.
At Thomas Salako road at Ogba, Lagos. It was gathered that most of the shops were locked, and only a handful were open. Unlike a typical Ogba on Thursday afternoon, the streets were quite scanty and a handful of motorists and passersby were seen going to and fro.
If someone were to come to Lagos for the first time and be at Ogba at that every instant, no amount of convincing would make that person believe the gory tales, Lagosians tell of the traffic they encounter daily, as the present state of traffic was something Lagosians only dreamed of.
Brightly dressed in a red dress, and a pair of flats, Olamide Adedayo walks past me, her eyes fixated on the road. You can tell, she had an important appointment.
“Hello, can I have a moment to speak with you”, she stops briefly accessing me from head to toe, then says OK.
I introduced myself and told her why I needed to speak with, her feature softens and it means I already have audience.
Asked how this year’s Christmas was for her, better than last year’s or doesn’t even compare. She says “for me, the year’s Christmas is not quite different from last year. It just that things are more expensive now than they were last year. So, I couldn’t really buy things as much as I did last year.”
You know this is Nigeria, where things become more expensive during this season. We are already used to the trend, so, for me, I did get the best that I could, and left the rest. ”
Another Lagosian, Tope Olukoya who spoke with INFORMATION NIGERIA lamented on the high cost of things. She decried the high cost of foodstuffs like rice, tomato and onions. The mother of two, as she would later reveal, said, “lets even leave foodstuff. Do you know I couldn’t afford to buy any dress or shoe for my daughters, even though I went as far Balogun market on the Island. You would hear a seller tell you, just one gown for a 5-year-old is N6000, N7000, N8000. I ended up going home without being able to buy anything.”
She lamented on how life has been so hard for Nigerians, following the border closure. She also didn’t spare the commercial transporters who she says are using the festive period to milk their passengers dry.
A few foodstuff sellers corroborated what Olukoya said. They said business didn’t boom as much as it did last December, and most people who used to buy in bulk, only bought sparingly because of cost.
Around Pen Cinema, Agege, buses that convey passengers to and from, Alausa, Ikeja, Ishaga were seen doing the usual, as passengers joined the buses going to their respective destinations. Street hawkers were seen advertising their wares while those that sell by the roadside are seen beckoning on prospective buyers.
It’s a beautiful but hot Boxing day afternoon, Bottled water and soft drink sellers seem like they are having a good day, all thanks to dehydrated commuters. Anike Ogunrinde, who sells frozen fish , a few meters away from where the Hitech construction workers are busy building the flyover bridge. Asked how the Christmas has been so far, she laments on low patronage.
She says “ it doesn’t even seem like Christmas as sales are the same with what I usually get any other month. Unlike before, you would see people going about buying and buying and by now I would have sold my 7th carton of fish.”
On why she didn’t stay back at home to rest on Boxing day, she says “There is nothing to rest about. I need money and I won’t get it at home. My kids will resume in January and that’s another batch of expenses. We all know Nigeria today is not easy at all.”
Temitope Olabode and her sister, Jumoke, said they enjoyed 2019 Christmas because they celebrated it in their own little way. Jumoke, a nurse at a private hospital in Agege, said, although she was on duty on Christmas day, she thinks the celebration wasn’t much different for her than last year’s or may even be better.
However, her sister, Temitope decried the huge cost of transportation, saying “my only problem is the way transporters unfairly hike the price this period. You almost spend a fortune just to get from one place to another.”
At Ikeja underbridge, while most of the shops were conspicuously under lock and key, a few opened for business.
Francis Anamaya, a phone dealer in Computer Village said this year’s Christmas for him was way better than last year’s. He said, “I won’t even lie. I made some cool profit this Christmas as sales boomed beyond my expectations. I had expected low patronage because of how much people lament but it seems that didn’t affect the phone selling and repairing industry.
“I was able to achieve some of the things that I couldn’t achieve last year. So I thank God.”
Goke Shinabade, an engineer that repairs laptops inside computer village said; “well, I thank God, because for me, this year’s Christmas beat last year’s by far. I really enjoyed it because I made some good money more than I made last year.”
Adesola Adegboyega, a Makeup Artist at one of the cosmetic shops at Ikeja also corroborated what the others said.
She said, “It may not have been a lot but it was way better for me than last year. I’m no longer where I used to be, and that for me is enough reason to rate this Christmas better than that of 2018.”
While it may not have paid off for foodstuff sellers and low-income earners, it seems some entrepreneurs, have a better Christmas.
The sellers and some people at Ogba and Agege blamed the poor Christmas celebration on the harsh economic situation of the country, adding that the high cost of food products and other essentials has stalled a beautiful celebration.
Then a few claimed they enjoyed Christmas 2019 better than they did last year, even though they had to break the bank because it’s once in a year and no financial excuse was needed to hinder the celebration.
The ones in Ikeja seem to have totally enjoyed this year’s Christmas and even went on to rate it better than last year’s.
Ikeja Electricity Officials Caught In Prepaid Meter Fraud
By Gbenga Odunsi, Lagos
The electricity regulatory body in 2018 introduced a law directing power distribution companies (DisCos) to furnish consumers with more prepaid meters. While many Nigerians are yet to be allotted meters, despite paying in full, some have complained of exorbitant billings.
“The officials came to my house, promising to fix my light and provide me with prepaid meter. This was on 15 May 2019, but as I speak(October 2020), I have not seen any meter. I went to their office in Ikeja to know why my meter has not been delivered, despite making full payment. But, on getting there, I met other people who had come to lay the same complaint, 35-year-old Joy Edna told Information Nigeria.
In April 2018, a new regulation on meter asset provider service says customers are not supposed to pay for meters.
According to the regulation, “DisCos shall conclude the procurement process for the engagement of the first set of MAPs within 120 days from the 3rd day of April,” MAPS regulation states.
“DisCos shall conclude the procurement process for the engagement of the first set of MAPs within 120 days from the 3rd day of April,” MAPS regulation stipulates.
Investigation by Information Nigeria uncovers the failure of the DisCos in meeting this deadline, and millions of Nigerians without prepaid meters are afflicted with the exploitation of estimated billing.
Why use prepaid meter
Whether you are a house or flat owner, renting or a landlord there are many benefits to using prepaid electricity over normal billed electricity in your home or office. Prepaid electricity means you don’t get bills in the post at the end of the month and many people in Nigeria using prepaid electricity now would never want to go back.
When you are using postpaid electricity (get billed at the end of the month) you are not aware how much you are using a day, a week or an hour. A prepaid electricity meter has a readout which displays your units as well as the level of power consumption. This allows you to better monitor how much electricity you are using and therefore budget better every month.
With a prepaid meter, a consumer can recharge N3000 worth of power and effectively manage it for three months by switching off appliances. This, however, doesn’t favour the DisCos as they tend to make little or no profit from this. Estimated billing allows them to charge based on assumed, rather than actual, electricity consumed, hence, they issue estimated bill of N30,000 each month, even if consumption is not more than N3,000.
Prepaid meter intentionally made scarce
Tonye Akinwande, a 43-year old landlord in Lagos who spoke with Information Nigeria, says the officials of Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, IKEDC are culpable of prepaid meter scams in Lagos. According to the estate surveyor, the prepaid meter costs N38,000, and payment is made in full, after which another sum of N5000 must be paid to open an account with the electricity department.
Mr Akinwande says as a landlord, there is a need to install the prepaid meter for all his tenants in the three different houses he owns within the city, but all attempts to purchase the devices proved abortive as officials of the electricity distribution company continue to frustrate his efforts.
“A 3-bedroom flat would be given an estimated bill of #20,000-#25,000 a month, only to find out that the flat isn’t even using so much appliances.
“The prepaid metre device cost #38,000 for one, and would not be issued to you until you have fully paid for it – that’s if you are even issued one.
“This means as a landlord in Lagos, I have to install the meters for my tenants, one per flat, Where would I get that kind of money?
“I was made to understand one prepaid meter costs #38,000, I paid for 8, then I was made to pay another #5,000 to open an account with the electricity department for each of the meters.
“People are yet to realize that this is a ploy by IKEDC to frustrate and further discourage people from purchasing the device because they make a huge amount of profit from estimating electricity bills.
“The prepaid metre is intentionally made scarce so that individuals would not get hold of it and put an end to the menace of estimated billings.
“The officials know that if you are able to purchase the metre and recharge #2,000 worth of power, if managed well, it would last you for more than two months, hence, their foot-dragging to issue out these meters.”
Computer drops long names
Chidinma Umunna could not believe her ears when officials of IKEDC told her husband that the computer dropped his name because it was ‘too long’.
She gawked in disbelief at the total amount they had been charged for estimated electricity consumption. The tall, plumpy, dark-skinned lady laments over the shoddy activities of IKEDC officials in the issuing of prepaid meters to electricity consumers.
According to the banker, her husband had paid for the device in 2018, but he is yet to be issued a meter.
“The officials appear to me as scammers, she says.
“In a country where there are rules and regulations, you find government officials bury themselves in financial shenanigans, thinking they are above the law.
“What would it cost IKEDC to produce prepaid meter that has been paid for since 2018?
“We keep hearing the meters are not available but they will never tell you not to pay for it.
“Among the numerous excuses that were given to us was that my husband’s names are too long that the computer had to drop it.”
“The officials sit in their offices and draft figures according to whatever wave swept through their heads.
“We keep getting estimated billings of over N25,000 in a modest two-bedroom flat.
Friends that I explained my situation to ask could not believe their ears, they kept asking if we were running an industry inside the house.”
Overcharging and overbilling prepaid meter users
In what appears to be a grand scam and illegal extortion by IKEDC officials — intentionally or through high powered negligence — metered a residential apartment with a device meant for commercial use. The effect of this is that the residential apartment is overbilled after each recharge.
Customarily, prepaid meter consumers are billed according to energy used. Consumers control what they use, and when they run out of unit, they can understand why it is so.
But, a prepaid meter consumer, Mr Babatunde Ayodeji, says whenever he recharges N5000, it doesn’t last more than two weeks – and it’s not as if power is constant.
According to him, IKEDC officials classified him on A1, instead of R2TP, which is the normal bill for a residential apartment with 3 phase.
After months of overbilling, Mr Ayodeji filed a formal complaint to IKEDC support centre via email.
After exchanging several emails since July, nothing has been done to effect or reclassify this consumer who lives around Ojodu Berger area of Lagos State. Having been overcharged for more than eight months, the power distribution company have done next to nothing in either rectifying their gross negligence or undoing their grand scam, after been found out.
“Aside email, I have also been to their office and spoke with a customer service agent who also confirmed the “fraud” and promised to push it to the appropriate department.
“Many residents are oblivious of this smart overcharge system but many just noticed their recharge doesn’t last despite the epileptic power supply they enjoy.
“We will recall that during the recently announced tariff change which elicited widespread condemnation from the public and labour unions, which was later halted by the government through the intervention of the national assembly, it required only a forty(40) digit token to move everyone up the higher tariff ladder.
“It is still a wonder why this same process cannot apply to effect a commercial tariff plan to a residential tariff, after all, it is all about the change in figure,” Ayodeji added.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Consumers rights and Obligation, empowered by the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act, 2005 clearly states that: all customers have a right to refund when over billed; all customers have a right to file complaints and to the prompt investigation of complaints; all customers have a right to transparent electricity billing; it is the customer’s right to contest any electricity bill, among others.
Further, Section 96 of the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act specifies that when a distribution company is informed during working hours that a customer’s prepaid meter is not operating properly, an authorized official from the company shall visit the customer premises within 24 hours to inspect and fix or replace it.
Five months after, Mr Ilori is yet to be reclassified on R2PT; yet to be refunded; while officials of IKEDC have continued to overbill him for electricity consumed, an egregious breach of the EPSR Act.
IKEDC, a failed agency — NERC is complicit too
The IKEDC has failed in its responsibilities to electricity consumers in Lagos and neighbouring cities. It remains to be seen if the officials will turn a new leaf from their corrupt ways.
Many Lagos residents are rocking the same boat with the above-interviewed persons, and they are dying in silence because they have no means to prosecute these dare-devil officials.
Again, Kabir Olatunde, an IT specialist residing at Airport road paid cash for the prepaid meter in February at IKEDC’s office in Ikeja. Nine months after, the device is yet to be delivered to him. He has lost every hope of ever getting the prepaid meter, after several failed assurances from IKEDC’s officials.
“I paid for the prepaid meter in February, before the coronavirus lockdown began, and I was assured the meter would be installed after five business days.
“It is close to nine months now and no meter in sight.
“I have tried all I can to ensure the device is installed but I keep getting empty promises from the officials, Olatunde told Information Nigeria.
Efforts to get reactions from Ikeja Electricity and Nerc proved abortive as emails sent to both agencies were not replied as at press time.
Why Nigerians Protest Creation Of SWAT Police
In the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality, the inspector-General of police, Mohammed Adamu announced the disbandment of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
This decision was made after Nigerian Youths stormed the streets to take action and call for change. The Nigerian government had no other option than to yield to the demands of the people, who came out in their number to stage demonstrations and to request for the termination of the notorious police unit following reports that they were misusing their powers to inflict pains on innocent citizens.
The nationwide protests which gained momentum kicked off on October 8, after a video emerged showing SARS operatives allegedly shooting and killing a young man infront of Wetland hotel in Ughelli South local government of Delta State.
‘Young People’ are often being targeted as they are constantly harassed either because of their looks and the type of gadgets and vehicles they make use of. Hence, they decided to take charge of their lives because they are tired of being oppressed and abused by the same people meant to be protecting them.
The #EndSARS hashtag goes back to 2017, and it started off as a Twitter campaign used by people to narrate their experiences of police brutality. The campaign elicited responses from people who have suffered at the hands of the rogue police unit.
SARS was founded in 1992 by by former police commissioner, Simeon Danladi Midenda to combat armed robbery and other grievous crimes but these particular set of mischief makers are known for extorting, killing, raping, and committing all sort of crimes and atrocities with impunity.
Demonstrators have always insisted that they have no leader and they speaking with one voice despite the fact that some ‘people’ have tried to spin the narratives to cause a divide.
They divide you with religion, ethnicity, political parties, while they stay united, looting you dry, the only way they keep having their way is by disuniting you, impoverish you just so they can entice you with crumbs to do their bidding. WAKE UP NIGERIA #TheTimeIsNow #EndSARS
— Anonymous (@Ann0nym0z) October 19, 2020
On October 11, the IGP revealed a new police unit known as Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team has been set up in place of SARS.
This idea wasn’t well-received by Nigerians probably due to the fast timing and this raised eyebrows.
Five demands of the youths
People are skeptical about the new police unit due to the fact that the government in general has not given them enough reason to trust and believe them in past. Many still believe the government doesn’t have the best interest of the people at heart.
The accuracy of the mantra, ‘Police is your friend’ remains arguable and far from truth thanks to the activities of the Nigerian police force.
Nigerians are demanding for the total dissolution of every tactical unit and a reformation of the Nigerian police force.
Protesters have also submitted their five core demands to the government and these include; immediate release of all arrested protesters, justice for the victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families, setting up an independent body to oversee investigations into police brutality and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct, psychological evaluation and retraining of SARS officers before they are redeployed to other police units, and increase police salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens. They are not accepting less and they also intend to tackle the bad governance and corruption in the country.
SARS TO SWAT
It didn’t take long before a photo of a man wearing the alleged SWAT Uniform began trending online despite the fact that people haven’t wholly accepted the unit.
According to the inspector general of police, Mohammed Adamu, former police officers from SARS will be part of the new unit but will undergo psychological and medical examinations to make sure they are fit.
“The officers are expected to undergo this process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties,” said Adamu.
Nigerians have stood their ground and have said ‘no’ to the creation of the new police unit.
People have also continued to agitate for an end to the tactical units.
Some Nigerians believe they are still the same set of people under the guise of a new name as they also cited how the government changed PHCN to NEPA but the issue of constant supply of light remained unresolved.
Guy it infuriates me when you say the FG said they ended Sars, we've heard this countless times, they were going to turn SARs officers to SWAT without proper orientation, that's like recycling the old fools into a new system. They didn't end Sars.
— Rastogi (@Harleche) October 22, 2020
Efforts have been made to disrupt the peaceful protests. Is Nigeria truly a democratic nation if the people are deprived of their freedom to speak and be heard?
Protesters have said that they are tired of empty promises made by the government. The Nigeria Police Force need to sit down and come up with a well-thought-out-approach that would bring relief to the citizens of the country.
Reactions trailing the decision
CHANGE OF NAME:
I, formerly known as Special Armed-Robbery Squad (SARS), now wish to be known and addressed as Special Weapons and Thieves (SWAT)
All former behaviours and identities remain valid. WASTED GENERATION!#EndSWAT pic.twitter.com/I00BALBUwq
— Jay Feeds (@Hard_Talk_ByJay) October 15, 2020
Remember, these guys are still out there terrorizing youths, and brutalizing young intellectuals. We say no to SARS. We say no to SWAT. Prosecute the police officers that rough-handles those young ladies.
We are not tired. #EndSARS
— Your Daddy (@ToyosiGodwin) October 17, 2020
The best thing General @MBuhari can do now is to tell us what he has done. Not what he will do.
— Reno Omokri (@renoomokri) October 14, 2020
— OPNigeria (@NigeriaOp) October 19, 2020
If you are able to understand the uselessness of SARS rebranding as SWAT, then you are able to identify the differences between abolition and reform, within a US context.
— pumpKin (@sheabutterfemme) October 21, 2020
Whether you end SARS or you do not end SARS it does not change anything. SWAT or whatever you choose to call it would end up committing the same atrocities. A system is just a function of processes, sub processes and steps. Simple statistics… fix the root cause
— Emmanuel (@boogie_84) October 22, 2020
We wanted SARS ended but they said no, instead they renamed them SWAT, released them to kill protesters, extort money from people, vandalizes shops and people's homes yet they are still blaming the youths. Hmmmm! Naija I hail oooooh!#EndSars
— Madona (@madona1996) October 22, 2020
Implementation of SWAT without proper reforming of police institution is too early. I G shouldn't be much faster until everything is under control. The same SARS personals are being integrated to SWAT without even confirming the cry of the youths .it's quite unfortunate in fact.
— Hillary Chukwuma (@HillaryChukwuk1) October 22, 2020
Oriola Topsy Seun
It was too early to make such decision citizens sees it as if it’s a old wine in new bottle. The IGP should have been patient enough since der is nationwide protest on this particular unit dey don’t have adviser and see the result of lack of patient we all bear it together even the IGP is not safe this time around and his family inclusive. May God deliver us in this country.
Owoicho Peter Ochola
For doing that shows their foolishness and insensitivity to the plight of their people. They think we are fools! No…!! Enough is a enough
Oche Mohammed Yusuf
Very good to go.
There must not be vacuum at any security space, rather the need for more fortifications, most especially when a unit is disbanded as the case with defunct SARS, there is a swift need for replacement.
For me, I say kudos to IGP for been proactive.
However, they must take into cognisance the insensitivity of their past actions.
The swiftness in the change of SARS to SWAT means it’s just a change of name and that’s senseless.
It remains to be seen if replacing Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad, FSARS, with Special Weapon and Tactics, SWAT, will bring any positive difference.
#EndSARS: Nigerians Recount Horrible Experience With Thugs In Police Uniform
“I entered a commercial tricycle heading home. On our way, we met SARS officials. They told us to come down. We were three inside.
“They started asking me questions about where I worked and what I do to which I replied all. After much questioning, they collected my ATM and told me I have to bail myself. I asked on what grounds and as we were talking, the other of his men shot one of the guys in the tricycle.
“I was terrified and told him that I don’t have cash on me. He brought out a POS, inserted my card in it and told me to type N200,000. I had to type it because I was scared of being shot”, she tearfully recounts.”
If you think the above narration is from a Nollywood scene, you are wrong. A young lady, Sophia, who works as a food vendor in Delta state, was not only forced to witness a young man being unlawfully shot but also part away with her hard-earned money – a total of N200,000 in her bank account.
The ongoing protests against the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) which is gradually growing into a nationwide revolt is not independent of the burning desire of the majority of Nigerian youths to see a reformed Nigerian police force.
The most populous black nation in the world with more than half its population as youths is witnessing its strongest alliance against police brutality in over a decade.
SARS, created in 1992 to handle crimes related to robbery, motor vehicle theft, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and crimes involving firearms have been involved in anti-citizen activities, with officers deviating from their original assignment by profiling young Nigerians, maiming, harassing, and shooting them even in the absence of concrete information to warrant their arrest.
Nigerian share their experiences
The anger and agitations for the total disbandment of the hated police unit cannot be said to be unreasonable.
During one of the several peaceful protests, a protester who took to the streets of Port Harcourt in a stereotyped appearance was later revealed to be DJ Kaka, who schooled in Ghana but lost his twin brother and car to SARS officers in Nigeria. His experience with the rogue police unit made him travel from Ghana to Port Harcourt to join the street protests.
“My name is End SARS boy, I don’t love them, I schooled in Ghana, but when I came back on January 25th, SARS had the guts to kill my brother and took his car. I don’t love SARS; I don’t love them.
“We need the MOPOL. We need the police. And we don’t need criminals like them. iPhone is not a crime. I’m from Ikwerre, all my body there is tattoo and I’m a DJ but no job. So, I’m just here to end SARS.
That’s why I came all the way from Ghana to end Port Harcourt SARS. I’m crazy but I’m gentle”, DJ Kaka reveals in a viral video.
Nina Nora’s experience with the rogue police unit was while travelling to her village in early 2020. The bus she boarded was framed for transporting Indian hemp.
“When I was going to the village early this year, FSARS stopped us at Okwu Uratta and told all of us to come down for ‘stop and search’. They didn’t see anything so they allowed us to go. Another group stopped us at Bishop’s Court and told us to come down for ‘stop and search’ again.
“One of them went straight to the gloves compartment and brought out wraps of weed. They started to threaten us with the NDLEA if we don’t comply. We eventually settled them with N30,000. They had initially asked for N5,000,000. Definitely, their ‘stop and search’ was to plant incriminating evidence in our bus”, she shares.
A quantity surveyor identified as Alexander Aghedo narrated his experience with the infamous police unit thus:
“When I was to lead a team of surveyors to Rivers State during the height of kidnapping menace along the East-West road, I visited the SARS post in Emoha LGA of the state to make arrangement for security escort.
“This was to enable me and my team carry out survey work and also collect soil samples for analysis. I paid the requested amount to their head and four SARS officers were released to provide the much-needed security for our survey work to go seamlessly. I was in for a surprise when while working at the site on the day, one of the SARS officers told me that he and his colleagues have concluded that I’m going to pay them an addition N100,000 right there and then.
“They said that what I paid in the office was for Oga. I told them I had already given their boss N200,000 and asked where he expected me to get an additional N100,000. The officer then cocked his AK47 rifle and shouted that if I couldn’t transfer them money, they would kill me and say it was cultists that attacked. Afraid for my life, I had to transfer my last N40,000 to them.”
A young woman who was raped by SARS officers in 2018 is championing the protests on the streets. Identified as Chiatuiro Precious Chidera, she says she does not want a repeat occurrence for her unborn male and female offspring.
“I was raped two years ago. They also extorted money from me. What was my crime: I fresh. I fresh na crime? I cannot give birth to a daughter in this country make them no go rape my daughter tomorrow. Make them no go shoot my son tomorrow. Na people pikin them they dead for Lagos state. End SARS. End police brutality”, she said while holding a placard.
Protests across the nation
The ongoing protests started on Thursday, October 8, 2020 after a planned protest by notable musician Naira Marley that was put on hold following a Twitter appeal from the Minister of Youth. Naira Marley then agreed to have a Live chat via Instagram with the IGP, Mohammed Adamu on Monday, October 5 2020. He, however, issued a one-week ultimatum to the government, after which a protest would begin to bring an end to the activities of the unit.
Displeased with Naira Marley’s lack of resolve, another artist Runtown who had also called for physical protests maintained that the protest would take place in Lagos on October 8 in spite of the government’s warnings and appeals. Runtown was soon backed by rapper Falz, comic skit maker Mr Macaroni, female singer Tiwa Savage, OAP Toke Makinwa, and reality TV star Tacha.
On October 8, the aforementioned celebrities took to the streets of Lagos alongside other young Nigerians who had received the Twitter call to meet at the agreed venue. They all marched to the Lagos State Governor’s House. Majority of the youths slept at the gate of the government house till Friday, October 9.
Other celebrities joined subsequently. The number of youths at the protest grounds increased, with Twitter as the main social media platform for communication. The #EndSARS hashtag alongside its offshoots such as #EndSWAT, #EndPoliceBrutality, and #SARSMUSTEND has attracted global attention with some global celebrities such as Trey Songz, Kanye West, and Lil Baby tweeting the hashtag and creating more awareness on the microblogging platform. Currently, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has acknowledged the movement with an emoji.
The protests then spread to other states of the country such as Rivers, Ogun, Osun, Oyo and the FCT, Abuja, following the disbandment of SARS by the IGP on Sunday, October 11. It was also on Sunday that the five demands were made to President Muhammadu Buhari. Currently, the protesters have not relented. This is because of the unimplemented pronouncements of disbandment and prosecution of abusive officers in the past.
The protests have also been disrupted on several occasions by alleged government security agents and hoodlums. The death of Jimoh Isiaq spurred more hatred for the SARS unit and more protests against police brutality. A prominent activist in Abuja, Aisha Yesufu, was also reportedly manhandled by the Nigerian police.
There have also been donations made by private companies, small and medium-sized enterprises and notable celebrities. The protesters have so far spoken with one voice: there is no leader among them and they will not stop until all demands are met.
SARS To SWAT, Any difference between Akara and moi moi?
After the IGP’s announcement of the disbandment of SARS on October 11, a new unit was created to replace the now-defunct SARS. This unit is called SWAT (Special Weapon and Tactics Team). SWAT is to fill the gaps created owing to the dissolution of SARS.
In an official statement released by the Nigeria Police Force, no personnel of the defunct SARS will be selected to be part of the new Tactical Team. It also states that operatives of the new Tactical Team must be free of any pending disciplinary matter especially those touching on misuse of firearms and abuse of human rights.
Nigerian youths have, however, rejected the formation of a new police unit to replace the scrapped Special Anti-Robbery Squad, positing that it will not end the brutalization of citizens. Some also argued that the new name given to the unit will give the police unfettered rights to further harass and intimidate Nigerians as they refer to the new unit as an advanced version of SARS.
It remains to be seen what the protests will metamorphose into, and how the Buhari-led dictatorial government would handle the trivial issue.
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