While the ongoing FIFA World Cup has been trending since it kicked off yesterday and will continue to trend for the next four weeks, social media users are also paying attention to other important local issues, especially the potential life-threatening ones like the #EndSARS campaign.
The Nigeria Police Force three days ago put out several sets of phone numbers where aggrieved citizens who have any complaint of violation of their rights by any Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) personnel anywhere in the country could report. Some of the numbers are:
PUBLIC COMPLAINT RAPID RESPONSE UNIT (PCRRU)
08057000001 – Calls Only 08057000002 – Calls Only
08057000003 – SMS & whatsapp only
FORCE PUBLIC COMPLAINT BUREAU
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
IGP MONITORING UNIT
0902 690 0729,
08174041000 – CALLS
0903 227 8905 – SMS
0903 562 1377 – whatsapp
When the Nigeria Police called on members of the public to avail themselves of these channels of contact in case of human rights abuses, a storm of reaction on Twitter followed. There were least 736 replies at the time of publishing this report but it appeared many Nigerians were anxious to circulate these channels of communication to other members of the public as the Police tweet got retweeted 3,477 times and it also appeared the publication of the contacts were popular among social media users because it got 2,410 likes.
Some reactions show the trend of thought as regards the issue of SARS harassment of innocent citizens
Mohammed Abdullahi wrote: “Kindly just do the needful and end SARS brutality , before the masses turn on the police , the ways SARS are brutalizing civilians it will one day result to newtons 3 law of motion”.
Some users accused the Police of indiscriminate stop and search and even checking phones to ascertain how much citizens had in their bank accounts, ostensibly to gauge how much to extort from them.
Ayomide Aghogho lamented, “Why on earth will someone stop you and ask for your phone just to check your personal information and checking your Bank Alert Messages to know how much you have in your account. Ògá ooo. This rubbish must stop”
Responding to the issue of identifying the SARS personnel involved in the harrasments, the same user wondered, “how on earth can someone know the Name and if his name is #SARS. If the @PoliceNG can’t guarantee every Nigerian’s Safety from this rogue, then am afraid our Generation will blame us for folding our hands while this acts (sic) goes on on us.”
Another concerned Nigerian, Ike Ilegbune dismissed the dressing of the SARS operative “You must be kidding! If you can’t see that it isn’t right for SARS officers to be in plain clothes, wearing anything from bathroom slippers to agbada, then you’re not serious.”
Reallionaire raised pertinent questions: “I’m going to ask you two straight questions. How do I report someone with 0 name tag? How do I report someone who pulled me over using a vehicle with 0 plate number? You people want to act like you’re actually working when we both know this is all bluff.”
Onowu has obviously lost faith in the country entirely: “Anyone who believes in Nigeria with this kind of police and political structure, needs deliverance”
FollowBack has a more radical solution laced with deep humour: “Seems ur juju has asked u to bring 10 persons from twitter for u to kill?? If not so,the video u have been seeing on the net isn’t enuf for you to strt an investigation???? ….Not just Sars, end Nigeria police we can protect ourselves..
Holla Naija lamented: “Simply #EndSARS! Their M. O. is now to isolate, abduct, threaten, and extort. More like to swell and protect own pockets. Unfortunately the Presidency is silent too. Otherwise they would have done the right thing, and we won’t be having this back and forth debate.”
Bennnnn! alleging that the source of the impunity may be high up in the Police hierarchy tweeted, “The DPOs, CPs should scrap any form of daily/weekly monetary ’targets’ for these officers. The Police Force isn’t a Microfinance Bank or an Insurance firm.”
Rock Cecil identified the problem: “I think the problem with the Nigeria Police starts first from the recruitment process. The authorities should ensure that anyone desiring to join the force should be well profiled. People with some spooky mind set floods the force and have really tarnished the image of the force.
Wilfred Aniago provided a solution: “Just carry out a comprehensive reform of that SARS. Change their uniform, ban stop and search and let them only respond to distress calls like ongoing robbery operations. They don’t need separate stations.”
Global human rights watchdog, Amnesty International had joined the EndSARS campaign last December when it called on the FG to investigate the alleged crimes perpetrated by this unit of the Nigeria Police Force while several celebrities like Tiwa Savage and Ruggedy Baba have also been loud voices in the campaign to end the impunity of SARS in Nigeria.