4 October, 2020
By Alao Abiodun
Widespread reactions have trailed the shooting of a young man in front of a hotel in Ughelli, Delta by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operatives.
The shooting reignited the #EndSARs campaign, which has been on for a few years.
The video, which went viral on Saturday, showed how there was confusion around Wetland Hotel in Ughelli area where the policemen allegedly killed the victim and escaped with his vehicle – a white Lexus Sport Utility Vehicle.
Nigerians on social media reignited the hashtag, #EndSARS. Many reactions have come from celebrities, actors, social media influencers, among other concerned Nigerians.
One of the strong voices in the #EndSARS campaign, Segun Awosanya, popularly known as Segalink said: “There are 100s of cases that never made it to Social media if not more…
“The call for the resignation of the IGP would be in order if no action is taken immediately on these murders with sanctions on the direct supervisors of these rogue officers.”
Nigerians urged the Buhari administration to take immediate steps to contain continuous cases of brutality linked to the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The department has faced relentless allegations of wanton arrests, torture and extortion of citizens for decades, but the menace was only being collectively amplified on the Internet in recent months.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Minister of Youths and Sport Development Sunday Dare; Former Senate President Bukola Saraki; Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and a global rights group, Amnesty international, were among prominent voices which condemned the recurring SARS brutality.
The founder of Omega Fire Ministries, Apostle Johnson Suleman, on twitter @APOSTLESULEMAN said: “SARS should be proscribed. They are a disgrace to the police. They are worse than the criminals they claim to be against. Their trigger-happy nature has rendered mothers childless, sent youths on premature extinction, wasted destinies, they will reap what they sow.”
Former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Joe Abah, also knocked the government for keeping mum over the “nefarious activities” of SARS officials.
“Is it that the @NigeriaGov and the @PoliceNG are not aware of the nefarious activities of SARS or that they support it? I don’t understand. #EndSARS,” Abah asked.
The Ministry of Youth and Sport, in a statement over the weekend, said it is worried about the increasing menace of SARS and has brought it to the attention of the relevant security agencies in Abuja.
“The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is worried about the increasing menace and increasing harassments and attacks by SARS especially targeted at the Youth and other innocent members of the public,” it said in a statement.
Saraki, in series of tweets, noted the continuous reports of harassments and illegal arrest by the unit were disheartening. He however urged the FG to restructure the unit.
“The reports of the continued harassment, illegal arrest, detention and high handedness by rogue cells of the SARS Unit of the Police against innocent Nigerians – most of them young people – in spite of efforts to reform the Police & raise standards of policing, are disheartening,” he said.
Sanwo-olu said: “The safety of our residents is my number one duty as the CSO of Lagos. So, reading reports of seemingly unlawful exploitation by the people charged to protect is very worrying & needs to be addressed immediately. Be assured that appropriate actions will be taken, & speedily too.”
Popular Musician, @BankyW also tweeted: “How many young Nigerians will have to be robbed/ kidnapped/killed by SARS before our Government takes it seriously?
“The “Special Anti-Robbery Squad” is doing the robbing?! Such a disgrace. What will it take for our “leaders” to do something about it? #EndSARS #EndSarsNow”
@FemiKuti said: “How many more innocents people must SARS/the police kill before urgent steps are taken to completely overhaul and reform the entire police force? Obviously government and their families are safe is why they are nonchalant and indifferent.”