Arise o compatriots

Going back home really made me appreciate my privilege of being British. That sounds wild and it is, it was a privilege I didn’t even know I had but became readily apparent in comparison to my contemporaries and friends. I became aware of the distinct advantage I had over people no different to me and that advantage was highlighted to me recently when a good friend was interviewing me for his Nigerian Magazine – WOW!

During the course of the interview he mentioned the #EndSARS movement, which I had offhandedly heard of, and then proceeded to bring me up to speed. The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is a branch of the Nigerian Police Force that was tasked with protecting civilians from armed robbers. Armed robbery when I lived there and especially now continues to be an issue but it has come to light that SARS have been instead using their authority to extort, harass, attack and kill innocent youth. They typically profile young people with nice cars, phone and clothes under the assumption that they gain these things through fraud or other types of criminal activity. There are countless videos and testimonies online, which you can find using the #EndSARS hashtag, of people having been illegally detained and then accosted by SARS operatives who are essentially looking for a bribe under the very real threat of physical assault or even death. In essence they have become the armed robbers they were tasked with stopping.

This is nothing new as the movement was formed 3 years ago and if you speak to the average Nigerian they will tell you that if you are stopped by Police the quickest and safest way to de-escalate and expedite the situation is to offer a bribe. At this point I am almost implored to say

But no, this system of bribery and corruption is borne out of a harsh class divide in Nigeria where there are elites who live lives of lavish luxury and everyone else who struggles is varying states of poverty. This system is not by mistake and in many way is upheld and reinforced by the powers that be because they are in power and aim to hold on to that power indefinitely and at all costs. An honest conversation about Nigeria, a country who just celebrated 60 years of independence, cannot be had without addressing the intrinsic ills of the country and the lack of effective leadership that perpetuate such problems. In fact an even more honest conversation would address the fact that the country was formed by amalgamating and colonising various and varying tribes of people together by the British in an attempt to pillage resources (yeah it always comes back to this). This takes away the agency the country has had for the last six decades so however sordid the past may be the issues that currently plague it should be nevertheless addressed by those currently in charge.

So why talk about this issue if I, because of my well established privilege, am largely unaffected by it. That is precisely the reason. I have less flesh in the game and can therefore say more directly what many of my compatriots in the field are saying under the threat of death. I have seen countless front-line protesters simply asking for their message to be amplified and for Nigerians in the diaspora to use their voice to fight alongside them. I hope to answer the call in some small way because we must call out police brutality wherever it occurs because as I hope you remember

Further still we need to call for an end to the nepotism and elitism entrenched in our country that bears fruit such as issues like police brutality, gendered violence and widespread corruption. #EndSARS is needed yes and is just one of a handful of weeds that need to be eliminated root and stem if Nigeria is truly to reach its potential as a country.

Peace and Love,

Aharoun the Author,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s