Here we go again with that crazy virus. Familiar gloomy tales milked from the tentacles of the medusa they created. This is the monster they created creating monsters. FSARS or SARS, it doesn’t really matter. The techniques are Hitler’s, the handles are often criminals, the outcomes are similar, we mourn stars. Criminals, Carnivores, Crusaders, what is the Nigerian Police Force made of? What is the value of life in Nigeria?
The day Tunde died, we captured the images on camera and then…then nothing happened. You thought it was going to end with the officer losing his job and spending quality time having his behind thoroughly examined in jail. You thought wrong. You thought the family of the victim will be compensated (even though you can’t compensate for life) and the remorseful officer asking for forgiveness. Wake up, this is not Lalaland. No, in fact, this is Lalaland.
Whatever you thought was the right thing to do, whatever you still think is the right thing, just sit, relax, and think of the opposite. The day Emeka left us, he was forced into the trunk of a car, the trunk of a bus actually, or was it a truck?, I can’t tell, but for three years now he hasn’t returned. Just like looking at the face of full-time criminals, to know who you are dealing with is to know the day you will die. If you want your death to happen instantly then pry, debate, and ask for proof of identity.
You are wondering if that dead truck is the new FSARS or Police vehicle and they are counting how many ‘yahoo boys’ can fit in one truck. You are thinking of civilization but like Pavlov’s dog, they are salivating at the thoughts of your bank account. The day you almost died at the hands of the same criminals who took Tunde, Emeka, and their friends, you were asked to unlock your phone and instead of doing the ‘wrong thing’ by standing up, you went below your knees and gulped everything in front and behind.
That is the kind of man the Nigerian Police and FSARS want. In fact, that is the kind of men we have in Africa. To avoid someone violating your body and mind, you often end up violating your body and mind yourself because in the hands of the FSARS rest elixirs of mortality and immortality. Give a man a gun and see the beast in him unleashed. Give a beast a gun and see him inspire beast-like thoughts men.
What is the difference between police officers who kill people and rob them and civilians who kill and rob people? I will tell you. If the sole aim of your existence is antagonized by your very own existence, can you (in that sense of your creation) be said to exist? Can a cloak retain identity if your new identity is asymmetrical to the original identity that ought to be consistent with it? Imagine a dog that acts like a fish, a smart TV that can’t surf the web, an iPhone with 12GB RAM but can’t install more than six apps, or a supercar that runs 2km/hr. It is a hard pill.
In fact, the police officer is more dangerous than the criminal (isn’t this even tautological? The officer is often the criminal) because the principal role of the criminal is to steal and kill. We all know this so we prepare, if anything, our bodies to be violated. It is a betrayal of trust on the part of FSARS to venture into the full-time criminal’s occupation. It breaks the heart of the people. You only expect an enemy to hurt you, not a friend, so when the reversal happens and the enemy seems to be more of a friend, it comes with grave repercussions.
If the duty of the FSARS unit of the Nigerian Police is to kill and rob, if they are not in charge of protecting lives, then we can show a little sympathy to their cause. A friend’s betrayal is worse. The hashtag has moved from ReformSars to EndSars and these outlets of frustration are being frustrated. This is an introduction on how to play with fire. In most countries of the world where poverty is the bane and the masses are relaxed, the government has often provided means to ventilate, outlets to pour out the sorrows sowed the previous day.
Though it is an illusion the vast majority of the human race has come to employ its powers. In nonworking countries, there have been several means of exercising this power. The people are often given temporary attention and this relieving power is rolled out. This way, the illusion (or reality in very few cases) that change can happen through protests and the fact that protests can even happen, keeps them from lynching the powers. HOPE is the force behind the illusion. Hope for a better country. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope that if they keep protesting that things will change.
This example was well established in the Arab Spring but despite the protests that happened and the change in the leadership of the countries in North Africa, did the real change happen? Hope is the force that drives us and governments have come to pay attention to it. In our own case, Nigeria, that is, protests are becoming taboos. The government thinks that by outlawing protests and breaking them before they start, their image in the international community will shine brighter. Protesters are shot or serenaded with Tear Gas. But while they do this, they are oblivious to the consequences of an overly caged society or to succinctly put a hopeless society.
People have lost families and friends to the brutality and stupidity of members of FSARS. Parents have lost their only child and we know that a hopeless father wouldn’t consider barbarism obscene. By antagonizing protests while FSARS officers go about killing whoever disobeys their brute demands, the government is building the citizens up for the battle ahead. Psychology says if you are beaten and not allowed to cry or consoled and still beaten and not allowed to cry or consoled, your reaction to the world will be only but a reflection of the negative reinforcements you were schooled in.
I hope we don’t get there. Hope? You see, that is where I’m wrong. Hope, in this case, is unrealistic and pointless. Instead of hoping, as Mark Mason said, we ought to do better. There is the argument that the only people clamoring for the abolishment of FSARS are criminals who want to be left alone. Unfortunately, this argument suffers from experience and an erroneous sense of justice and responsibility. I am not a criminal and so are many other young men like me who play one or two roles in the institution I work.
On many occasions, the officers of FSARS have stopped and searched the pockets, phones, and bags of some of us going to work. We are not Yahoo Boys and even if we were, it is not in their place to do any search. The role of FSARS as stated in their code of conduct is to handle Robbery and Kidnapping cases. They have no business searching anyone’s phones and this has been repeated by their hypocritical bosses time and time again.
There is also the argument that if FSARS leaves there will be more crime and that they have helped fight against crime in the society. Proponents of this argument fail at two points. One, FSARS kills five criminals but perpetuates over a hundred. They stop one kidnapping but perpetuate twenty (20) themselves. They stop far fewer crimes than they commit and thus their bad outweigh their good. This is how good is measured. It is not in your emotions or in those isolated responses to the call of duty.
Extorting cybercriminals and killing them with impunity (in a democracy), is worse than any cybercrime. Intimidating thousands in a week, torturing and abetting hundreds, and killing tens in the same week you stopped one crime is counterproductive. So, FSARS is not helping fight crime but committing it. Even a full-time criminal shows love more times. And the question is, did FSARS reduce the crime rate in Nigeria since their creation in 1992 or they exploited, abetted, and perpetuated it? I stand with the latter.
Secondly, the proponents of this argument have a poor appreciation of what civilization really means. To be civilized is to respect life, not just yours. As long as crime was stopped in their neighborhoods, the thousands of crimes committed on daily bases by FSARS are not a problem to them. They can kill, torture, and exploit other Nigerians but because of that once-in-a-while moment of goodness, they get a pass. The truth is, even that moment of goodness is not done with goodness at heart but a safe passage for future crimes. It is like criminals who build churches and schools for the community their actions destroyed.
Nigerian lives matter and mad people shouldn’t be in charge of civilizing the place.
Some of us have zero understanding of what responsibility really means and do not really want to know. A democracy is governed by legality and not ones subjective sense of what is moral. We confuse what our jaundiced sense of morality terms wrong with what units established in a democratic sense of legality terms wrong. As long as they are operating under democracy they are bound to act with the codes establishing them. Any deviation from this is a deviation from the code, a deviation from democracy and ought to inspire in the people a deviation from the undemocratic. We need to beat this into people’s skulls.
FSARS have killed people because they shouted back at them. People have been killed for refusing to open their phones. They have shot at people for asking for clarity. They have killed for the sake of robbing the rich victim irrespective of how the victim made his money. They have killed for even less and frankly speaking, if there is any clue as to how deeply flawed the system is and how unworkable mere verbal pronouncements from the IG of police is, a look at the crazy DPO who threatened protesters by pulling out a pistol in a protest in Owerri last Thursday will tell us all we need to know. As long as the head agrees with evil, the body agrees with it, and as long as they are all in this unity, madness will always prevail.