For over a week, Nigerian youths have taken to the streets to cry to the government to dissolve the rogue group Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Although the government claimed to have dissolved the unit, Nigerian youths are not taking it as the government have on different occasions (years really) dissolved SARS and they are still on the loose.
It is almost like the government just say “SARS is gone” so the people can relax and after a few months or weeks even, they come back with:
This time they came SWAT as a replacement for SARS. So the same set of men but another name. I mean:
Do they think this is funny? If they do, we certainly hope they laugh about these real experiences from these 6 real people as they recount their experiences with SARS/police officers.
SEYI (30 YRS)
My friend and I just had drinks. We were in an Uber after she dropped off, I started heading back home. It was 11:50 pm or so. We were passing through Alausa, Ikeja when police officers stopped us. I didn’t argue or anything like that. I rolled down the window to speak with them as they kept questioning my driver. One of them asked me to come down, He asked me for my ID and I showed it to him. He started asking me what I was doing out at this time of the night. I told him it was the weekend and I went to have drinks with a friend. He asked me why I was sitting at the back of the car, that the man driving is my elder and I have no respect for him because he is a driver. Honestly, he was shouting. He said because I have a small job, I think I can do what I want with people’s car. He asked me to bring out my phone. I told him I couldn’t give it to him, that it’s my property. That’s how he used his gun to hit me on my belly, my phone fell off my hand and he took it. Till this moment, I am not sure how he unlocked my phone. I don’t know if I left it unlocked. He went straight to my messages, checked my bank alerts and he said there was no way my job was responsible for the money in my account. I told him I had a logistics company too and he said, I am giving them half my account balance. I refused. Told them I worked my ass for that money and I cannot jut give it to them like that. He cocked his gun, pointed it to my face and said “this is midnight, people are not here, I will shoot you and nothing will happen. Nobody will even know you are dead until they find your body. So better corporate” the look on this man’s face, he would have killed me. He really wanted to shoot me for my own money. They forced me into their van and took me to an ATM vest. After back and forth, I withdrew 80k and gave it to them. God bless my Uber driver, he followed me all the way and took me home.
So my brother and I were going out. He was driving. From nowhere came this SARS van, They overtook us and stopped in front of our car, in the middle of the road. They started shouting that we should park. After we did they started dragging us out of the car and saying we should enter their van. Just like that. We kept asking them what the problem was and it angered them. Next thing they started beating us mercilessly. See the old man that was even part of them sef. If they leave me and that man one on one, no be die e dey? That is who was beating me like a thief for zero reasons. They even broke my wrist sef. People gathered asking what was going on. Next thing they cocked their gun saying they will shoot people if they don’t stay back. A contractor that did a job with us, was around and asked the SARS officers to release us but they refused. They couldn’t even give reasons for their brutality. They just said we must follow them. They didn’t even let us contact anyone. The contractor was even threatened for pushing for our release. They cocked a gun at him asking him who he thought he was. The man then advised that we should just follow the officers. When we got to their station, they searched us, took our phones and found nothing. They saw one 1k transfer my brother did on his phone and they started asking him where he saw $1k dollars to send. My brother was confused. They showed him the message and what was written was USSD charge. These people saw USSD and thought it was dollar transfer, They are so stupid eh. Then they told us we are lucky it was day time and people were there, that if it was night, they would have killed us there and max, it will trend for a week and everyone will rest. At the end of the day, my uncle called the commissioner and that is how they let us go.
IRENE (26 YRS)
So my boyfriend and I went clubbing. On our way back, SARS officer stopped us. They dragged my boyfriend out of the car and with slaps they asked him where he was coming from. I was shouting and crying and I got my own slap for it. My boyfriend was begging them not to touch me. We thought they were thieves. It was when I saw their van I told my boyfriend they were SARS officers. They took our phones, one came close to me and started touching my breast, He said why will I be wearing this kind of dress outside that do I want to be raped. I told him to stop touching me. Because I hit his hand, he punched me, in the face. My boyfriend was very angry and he pushed the idiot. That is how they descended on him. I could not even do anything, I was crying and begging. They told my boyfriend that they will take me and lock me up and nobody will find me for a long time. We both started begging. My boyfriend told them he would transfer money to them but they should please let us go. They put us in their van. One drove my boyfriend’s car behind us. My boyfriend was bleeding from his head and mouth. I was just crying. I felt so helpless. They stopped at an ATM place, we withdrew 50k and gave it to them. One officer was saying that the 50k was my boyfriend’s own and I should give them mine or follow them. Again we started begging, another officer just told him to leave us, They got off our car, gave us the key and left.
I was only walking on the road when SARS officer stopped me. I have dreadlocks. They questioned me, useless questions. They took my phone, searched left and right but got nothing. Then they asked me for money. I told them that I had none that I am just surviving like them. I showed them my ID and one just came, took the ID and broke it. He was like “Do you think I am joking? Give us money” I insisted that I didn’t have to give and they threw me inside their van along with some other guys picked up. On getting to the station, they asked us again who would give them money or has anyone to call to settle them. The ones that did raised their hands and were allowed to go make calls to get money to give the officers. They asked the rest of us to sit on the floor and remove our shirts and trousers. We were left with just boxers. These guys legit brought out guns and different weapons, placed them in front of us and wanted to start taking our pictures with the guns. They said they will publish the pictures and tell the world that we were armed robbers that they caught in a robbery. I was almost having a heart attack. I started calling everyone that existed in my life. I called everyone and they were able to raise 100k for me. That is how I was bailed. I really hope the others got out too
This happened to my sister. While she was serving, she went out to visit her friends. On her way back, she was chased by some men. They caught up with her, took her things and beat her up. Luckily she wasn’t raped, just roughed up. Her clothes were torn and she was dirty. As she was walking on the road, she saw SARS officers and they asked her what was wrong, she told them, they put her in their van and took her to the station. They started asking her to say the truth about what happened. She insisted that she was robbed and they said they were looking for robbers in the area and accused her of being a part of them. How did we get here? Like how did she move from being robbed to being a robber? They beat her and raped her. They said how could she say men robbed her and didn’t touch her, just beat her. That she is lying. They kept beating her to admit something she didn’t do. They asked her to bring money she didn’t have, didn’t let her make calls. After two nights, they probably got bored of raping her, they allowed her to make a call. That was how she called me. I was able to raise 75k and on my knees, I begged them to take it. They told me to bring in 150k because my sister was a criminal. I begged and begged. I had to call my parents to help. In all, we gave them 130k and they let her go. My sister was in the hospital for a week. She didn’t talk about the whole thing for a long time. It broke her.
This was during election period. I was recruited to work with INEC. On my way to the polling unit, I was with others, we were stopped by SARS officers and dragged out of the car. You know how lonely the roads can be during election period so nobody was outside. They told us to lie down on the floor. One started flogging our backs with a belt and asking us who we were and why we were travelling in groups. I spoke up and told them we were INEC officials. I told them we were working for the day’s election. Another officer from the van started saying “Waste these fools. They are lying. They be cultist” We started begging. They cocked their guns and like film trick, one INEC bus came by and stopped there. The man who did our training was the one who jumped out to talk to the officers. He told them we were working with him and squeezed whatever amount in their hands. That is how they let us go. I would have been a dead man today.
Still think it’s a joke? Are you still laughing?