Written By: Eleanya Ndukwe Jr.
Nigeria–In 1992, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)—a unit of the Nigeria Police Force—was founded to help curtail criminality. In recent memory however, the unit itself has become a criminal enterprise, engaging in extortions, extrajudicial killings, and brazen notoriety. The stories linked to SARS operations remain eternally haunting.
On July 19th, 2019, an undergraduate at the University of Port-Harcourt, Chinedu Obi was arrested by the Nigerian police and taken to Sango Ota divisional headquarters for ‘interrogation.’ Chinedu would be shot in the butt at the Ota Police Station, Ogun State, and true to the typical sadistic nature of these rogue agents, would be left to bleed to death in a viral video.
While the police claimed an alleged “case of assault/malicious damage,” for his arrest, Chinedu fit the physical description of SARS’ usual victim: confident looks, a tattooed body, and no doubt, an outspoken demeanor. Not only was Chinedu killed, his family never got notified about it until the news of his killing leaked on social media, sparking national outrage.
Barely a month ago, SARS operatives raided the home of Adam Ugwunwa—I bet without an arrest warrant—met his absence, and whisked his fiancée, Ifeoma Abugu away instead.
Ifeoma, recently engaged wife-to-be and graduate from the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, died the next day in SARS custody. She had been allegedly tortured, raped, and heinously killed by SARS operatives.
The unit had the effrontery to claim that she died from cocaine overdose. Eerily similar to the narratives around police brutality resulting to the killings of Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor and an endless list of other African victims in the United States? You bet!
These are just a couple incidents from the countless killings that Nigerians have become undeservedly used to as we navigate through daily living, no thanks to the state-sanctioned domestic terrorists, SARS. Chibuike Anams, Godspower Edoha, Kolade Johnson, Tina Ezekwe, Tiyamiu Kazeem and many more died in the hands of SARS.
While cases of police brutality here in the United States are intricately linked to the maintenance of the white power structure and the enabling notion of systemic white-supremacy racism, police brutality in Nigeria through state-sanctioned rogue agents like the SARS, exposes a level of sheer wickedness and weak institutional implementation.
For the latter reason, there have been many cases to attest to such: In 2018, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) announced a ban on SARS from conducting their notorious stop and search operations; in 2019, the IGP, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris reiterated the same rhetoric about the same ban just a year earlier; in February, the new IGP, Mohammed Adamu ordered the disbandment of the SARS’ satellite offices nationwide, continuing the same usual lip service.
Simply put: Nothing has changed so far regarding SARS brutality. And the same weak institutional frameworks make it almost impossible to hold erring domestic terrorists accountable.
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Eleanya Ndukwe Jr. is a graduate student of Political Science at California State University, Los Angeles.
He writes about western media-termed “third world” nations.
Follow him on Twitter: @The_New_Mind