Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s “I do not come to you by Chance” explores the travails of a firstborn son in his quest to become “something”. It explores the lack of job security that is prevalent in Nigeria and amongst other things the life of Fraudsters (who we refer to as 419 people).
Though I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about the book, it particularly mirrors the life of the educated Nigerian on the street who chooses to go into a life of crime. As a lover of foreign news and all things foreign, I am particularly plagued by the fact that Nigeria has come to be known as the nation where Cybercrime is prevalent. Mainstream media hasn’t helped matters too as Nigerians have been depicted in that light though many of us have multiple jobs just to make ends meet.
As a solution, the Nigerian government came up with the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian Police Force. However, it is sad to note that SARS turned against the very citizens they were to protect. There are so many stories and videos of citizens who were victims of this dreadful arm of the police force.
SARS was structured to work the way the SWAT team of the United States Police Department worked. However, they began to mount roadblocks and patrol the streets for anyone who looked like a 419 person (fraudster). Many of these officers engage in profiling people. If you have an i-Phone, or dreadlocks or have more than a pair of piercings or make use of luxury brands, they automatically assume that you are a 419.
Nigerians became ready victims of theft, murder, rape, unlawful arrest and extortion in the hands of these very people. It’s like the FBI patrolling the streets and arresting people without any evidence, only that this time around, the victim is not allowed to have access to legal representation and/or has to pay a lot of money just to make bail. If this doesn’t happen, such a person can be charged and sentenced for murder when there was no crime committed in the first case.
I understand the conflict between trying to repair a damaged reputation and having to protect the security and welfare of citizens. The government sure has tried to reform it in the past but reformation is not viable. The only solution is to #EndPoliceBrutality #ENDSARS #SARSmustEnd…
I am overjoyed that the Nigerian Youth has come forward to stand against this menace. It really showed me that as Nigerians, when we suspend tribal sentiments, Nigeria’s giant stands out. I am super proud of my country. Personally, this was the first time I identified as a keypad warrior without feeling anxious.
I will love to plead with the Nigerian Government to ban the Unit, and not just disband them. We need a legislative or an executive order to that effect, not just a declaration that the unit has been disbanded. I also believe that if the members of the police force are adequately catered for, there will be no need to extort citizens out of their hard-earned money. There is also the need for adequate training of the members of the police force as well as provision for equipment. I say this because police personnel lack adequate and regular training. They also do not have the adequate infrastructure they need to investigate suspicious activities.
More importantly, I will like to call for a constitutional amendment as the Nigerian Police Force is centralized. If the constitution provides for state police, there will be increased response to crime and will make policing more effective. The police can be our friend and hopefully, we will be friends soon.
This is only the beginning.