SARS: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or Special Arm Robbery Squad?

Like the influenza that year, the Nigerian SARS corrupt, consume and render useless the everyday Nigerian. That time, we lived in fear and knowing the capacity of our government for ineptitude we knew our existence or nonexistence was out of our hands. As usual, we prayed and rebuked the spirits of the air and if not that the influenza was killed before it headed our direction, we would have been doomed. Today, in the Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, it seems the syndrome is alive again and as it was in the past, the men in power are doing nothing while the masses simply pray and hope the ‘strong men’ never remember them. When the Nigerian government created this unit of the Force, the goal was to fight Robbery and Crime but today, instead of fighting Robbery and Crime, they commit both. The officers of the unit reworked their scope of work and created light out darkness. They have become the evil they were created to fight and carrying guns with real bullets, they try to copy the Nigerian Army. They bully, go beyond the scope of their jobs, harass and in addition to these human rights violations, extort, steal and murder Nigerians.

Every young man on the street wearing dreadlocks is a cultist and a thief, in their eyes, and going contrary to every reasonable means of engagement is reasonable. But you will be damned to really believe they really believe these guys on dreads are what they term them to be. They know the truth but as is the character of every thief and doer of evil in government, a cover, no matter how battered it is, is a good cover. Nowhere in the poorly written constitution of this country is any hair style deemed illegal but these monsters hide behind it to perpetrate evil. Another grave crime in the book of these madmen is the existence of a crypto-currency application on your phone.


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First, stopping guys on the street and forcing them to unlock their phones is criminal but they do it anyway because they know there will be no consequences for their actions. The few amongst them who understand how Bitcoin and other coins work pretend ignorance or use their knowledge negatively. The owner of the phone is accused of being a Yahoo Boy and sometimes forced to make a transfer from his Bank App to the officer’s account for ‘peace to reign’. In other settings, you only need to refuse his request for your phone’s password or try to be moral or legal or even far from the scene of crime and you wouldn’t be aware when you begin to trend. Your dead body though. That was the story of the young man shot last week. The officer, according to the boy’s father, said he wanted to kill someone and he did kill someone. If a member of SARS gets angry, just like with a member of any of our security outfits, just pray the stray bullet doesn’t kill you after killing the target.

Burna Boy said we should fight but what does that even mean? Look at this way. Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people but when it is not, attempts made to correct the anomaly are democratic. In essence, the security outfits and other departments in the system must operate for the good of the people. When this is not so, we have a chaotic setting and what is present ceases to be for the people and thus we can no longer be said to have democracy. Fighting, metaphorically, is the process we saw in Tahiri Square before Muhammed Morsi and Abdul-Fatai Susi, came on but we also know that that kind of fight can only happen in a civilised place or a place close to civilization. In Turkey a coup happened and after Erdogan instructed the Turkish people to protest on the streets, the soldiers in Armoured Tanks came down, surrendered and some received knocks from the people and the coup failed. Can that happen in Nigeria and was this what Burna Boy was talking about?

Take the Shia massacre for example. The over 347 Shia Muslims the Nigerian army killed were not even protesting but were on procession. They were not trying to fight the government as some mouthpiece of the lying government claimed but were just performing their yearly activity in Zaria. All over Northern Nigeria, Muslims block the road on Friday but this was the excuse for which this people were coldly murdered. They blocked the roads and so what? While that is wrong and primitive, it is not an offence warranting death without trial. It is obvious that Burna Boy was not being metaphoric when he commented on the madness of SARS but because we are all trying to be civilised, it wouldn’t ‘sound’ nice to use such term in a country that claims to be democratic. But is it right? Is it logical?

If the security man you employed becomes the thief you employed him to chase, is it wrong to treat him like the thief? If the man you gave a gun to pursue killers begins to terminate your family members one after the other is it wrong to treat him like a killer? If the man you employed to do a job takes the job of destroying the job, is it wrong to terminate his contract and charge him for his sins? This is what I think he was talking about but uniformity of thought is the only problem with this solution. Logically, any rogue should be treated as a rogue but who determines degree? Where do we stop and why do we stop? What are our rules of engagement and at what degree? At what point do our actions seem to become undemocratic?

Many of us wouldn’t hesitate to call a SARS officer on our neighbour because of minor disagreement but we are at the forefront of the end SARS campaign. The bad guys are useful when they are not attacking us, they are useful as long we are the ones using them, they are good if they are doing our bidding, but the moment they begin to disturb us they cease to be good. We do this with the soldiers and every other security outfit our little change can afford us. We bully our neighbours with some of these useful idiots in these departments and then we ask why they are unreasonable and inhuman. As long as we keep playing with evil, it will keep going round. We also give them motivational support when it pleases us. We act out of our uncivilised minds and rejoice when they bully the boys on dreadlocks but we fail to see and understand that legality and not morality is the function of government. In our brand of morality, dreadlock is a sin and should be penalised.

When SARS officials and soldiers tell boys sagging their trousers to pull them down or lift blocks we are happy about it because we don’t like sagging or the boys who sag. You see that neighbour who drives a G-wagon with a questionable (questionable by your own myopic standards) means of livelihood, you see him being battered in a gutter because he refused to be intimidated by the men with guns who tried to violate him and you are happy. You hail the SARS officials because you hate the young extravagant neighbour. He should be dealt with so that he can behave but by ‘behave’ you don’t understand what you are talking about. We fail to see that it doesn’t matter what a young man choose to wear on his head or how much he sags his trousers, as long as he has not broken any law he shouldn’t be treated like scum from SARS officers. And even if there is a law against sagging, it is interpreted in the court of law by lawyers and not on the roads by officers in dire need of psychometric tests.

We allow our false sense of morality get in the way of the legitimate and we wonder why illegitimacies have to fall on us. If SARS officers are serious about fighting online crimes they should be on, Nigeria’s online centre for hate and advanced stupidity studies, where crime is advertised by members daily. They should be on Twitter digging and scrutinising the accounts of the young men who recently responded to Singer, Simi’s banishment. They should be on Facebook investigating the crimes bothering on football betting, international love, fake ID’s, etc. That Job is for the EFCC to do and they are not even active in their duties. Members of SARS are what they are today because of the guns they were given. Take away guns from madmen and deaths will reduce. Nigerian road safety officers would have been involved in killings too if they were given a gun with such low mental and educational qualifications. Fight them metaphorically if you like but as long as their existence and behaviour is not a threat to those in power, you are wasting your time.

About Poet 171 Articles
I am Rey Alaetuo, a conscious Poet and health care professional living in Owerri, Nigeria. I am an exponent of humanism and a vigilant Poet. I am deeply interested in the propagation of positive human values and behaviour.

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