” Not a personal experience but I got a random call from a random number by 2am, it was my tailor sounding very frantic and beaten. He was at a police cell somewhere on the island and he needed bail out money- he only had N10,000 naira in his account and needed an additional N10,000 . After I transferred it to him, I asked what his offence was, he was just walking on Admiralty in search of a roadside eatery to buy food at 11pm, and he was then rounded up into a van, tagged an armed robber and held overnight for 2 days!. So it is both a crime to be poor and carless?, also a crime to look rich and have a car, which way?”.The men, who’d pulled him over in an unmarked van, identified themselves as part of the federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, a Nigerian police unit which is been tasked over the past three decades with fighting violent crime, including banditry and kidnapping.Similar stories has blazed across social media in the last few days as thousands of protesters filled the streets in various Nigerian cities, prompting the leaders of Africa’s most populous nation to dissolve the squad, which they say routinely commits the sort of crimes it is supposed to stop.
The special Anti-Robbry squad “SARS” or #EndSARS is a social movement in Nigeria which started on “Nigerian Twitter”, With youths opposing the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which is a unit of the Nigerian Police Force. The #EndSARS is a call to end police oppression and brutality which has become rampant in Nigeria.
A lot of Nigerians have shared stories and video evidences of how members of the SARS engage in kidnapping, murder, theft, rape, torture, unlawful arrest of citizens, high-handedness, humiliation, unlawful detention, extrajudicial killings, and extortion.
This act by SARS has in turn affected a lot of businesses and budding Entrepreneurs in various ways ranging from company workers getting arrested thereby restricting them from working and affecting their businesses.
A company “Flutterwave” came out on their twitter account to explain the unlawful arrest of one of their workers by SARS, they mentioned how the young man had been wrongfully arrested and tortured by SARS officials.
Fintech startups like Piggyvest, Flutterwave, Buycoins, and Rubies bank have been supporting the #EndSARS movement actively. With donations coming from various individuals and also international bodies participating and showing support for the #EndSARS movement, the protesting youths feel supported.
Flutterwave on their twitter handled said “We’ve raised 2m so far, and the team decided to open it up to the public. We are 100% against all forms of violence and brutality and we need to band together to put an end to this”.
The CEO of Flutterwave further stated “So many of us are affected by this injustice – the flutterwave staff have also been victims of the brutality of SARS, so we started an internal fund so we can help victims of SARS and support protesters”.
However, there have been reports coming in about the police shooting at the peaceful protesters and the death of one of the protesters ” Jimoh Isiaq” was reportedly shot in Ogbomosho on Saturday by members of the police force during the peaceful protest.This death and the unlawful arrest of some other protesters in various parts of the country has caused further agitations, with protesters calling on financial institutions and other big companies and businesses to join in the protest #EndSARS.
A lot of youths have however stated to stay off brands and organizations that don’t show support for this cause after things have been put in order. According to the youths, it takes a living Nigerian youth to patronise these said organizations. This spells pending loss of customers for such organizations / companies.