At first, the protest was about the Special Armed Robbery Squad. A group of misfits, madmen and murderers employed by the Nigerian state to fight crime but rather enabled it. They violated Nigerians in every sense and made life miserable for everything they touched.
Initially, our body language seemed to tolerate the brutalities and, in some cases, even enjoy it. We had learned to live with bad governance even though we suffered the consequences of it. We learned to live with looters stealing our commonwealth and rubbing it in our face.
We learned to pay for the electricity we didn’t use. We even learnt to praise elected officials when they did little of what they ought to do. We were that miserable. But, you see, we only wanted to live. We don’t want to die yet. You can touch our resources but don’t touch us directly. How naive!
We had subconsciously accepted our new fate but when they kept on killing us, we mustered enough courage, protested and achieved something on paper. It is too early to tell what we have achieved or if we actually achieved anything but I hope for the sake of us all, it is positive.
But there is a Hydra somewhere. A starfish sprouting out more demons as old demons are cut off. Cutting off one poisonous part to cripple the effect of the organism is futile. The Special Armed Robbery Squad was a mafia and the field officers are just pawns in a bigger game.
Take for example, the former Head of the Awkuzu SARS, Anambra State, a certain James Nwafor whose crimes will make even his father, Lucifer, grin with envy.
There are claims that after so many complains about his murders and impunity he was transferred to the Northern part of the country but from there he moved to Enugu State and miraculously found himself back at Awkuzu, Anambra, doing the same thing he has always known how to do best. On retirement, he was appointed as the Special Security Adviser to the current Governor, Willie Obiano.
Something happened here. There are also claims that he connected politicians and criminals to their favourite humans organs and looking at how he has risen from murder to glory, these claims wouldn’t seem to be far from the truth. Even a psycho has a purpose and the braggadocio with which this psycho performed signalled a cover.
You see, people like James Nwafor and other murderous officers of the Special Armed Robbery Squad continued what they did because there was an invincible and invisible hand leading the way. There was a protector somewhere ready to fight for the safety of the men committing the heinous crimes.
These field officers are at the lower section of the food chain. They are only but foot soldiers taking orders. Removing the field officers and leaving the men at the top of the food chain solves just the problem created by those field officers. The manifesto is written by those at the top not the crazy boys.
The men behind the hands that wielded the weapons are often left untouched and in our case, trying to transfer the men who wielded the weapon to other units is simply a distribution of corruption typical of the Ogas at the top. Taking a devil to a different or new unit (inhabited by smaller devils) wouldn’t clean the devil of evil but taking the devil out any unit will go a long way in stopping the bleeding.
The hands behind the hands that developed, nurtured and renamed the originally Special Anti-Robbery Squad to Special Armed Robbery Squad are what we are gazing at. These hands are up there in the Nigerian Police. They are also found in the rooms where Nigerian Police chiefs are appointed.
They are found in the corridors of power. These are the hands that created this image of SARS. They didn’t just create the Special Armed Robbery Squad in their image; they drew Nigeria in their battered portrait. They are crass, rude and without honour and so is the Nigeria formed in their image.
They made sure their interest is in every government owned institution. They spread their evil wings around us and cover us in their cloak of darkness. When we complained that SARS ought to be dealt with, they frowned at the idea, played with us and sent back the field officers to their duty posts.
We showed them the pictures of dead people from Anambra to Lagos (unfortunately for us, the pictures they are used to seeing) but it fell on deaf ears. And finally when they responded to our last request, they hurriedly put out another name, Special Weapons and Tactics Unit, SWAT, in less than a week, talked about reforming the police and set up a circus.
Whenever our leaders decide to settle the nuisances (or the masses, of course) they play to the gallery and laugh at their own jokes. This has been their tactics in every facet of our lives. The men who ruined and still ruin Nigeria are familiar with these tactics and because we have kept quiet for long the clowns keep repeating the same trick. This is why we protest.
#EndSars and #EndPoliceBrutality are now the metonyms for the underlying and overlying issues running across Nigeria’s space. We want to be treated with respect from people whose sole job is to protect us. We want the right people in the right places and madmen expunged from the same system they are ruining.
The protest is a call for a Nigeria where human life is given the value it deserves and a place where killers are not placed in high places. We want an end to careless spending and the beginning of responsible leadership.
We want an end to death-traps as roads and a country where pipe-borne water and electricity are treated as basic requirements of life and not luxuries. And like Aisha Yusufu said, we want a Nigeria where the son of a Nobody can become Somebody without knowing Anybody. This is why we protest.
So, while SARS has ended on paper and their physical presence and activity cut short for now (though residents of Ohaji-Egbema in Imo State still find them around), #EndSars protest is a call for an end to all the hostilities perpetuated by the Nigerian state against the Nigerian people. This is why we still protest.
We have seen terrible things and we are coming from a very terrible place. We saw how the President, Muhammadu Buhari, laughed when Governor Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State told him one of the demands of the protesters is the compensation of the families of the dead. The laughter was coming from a very terrible place.
A place only inhibited by monsters, wicked witches and warlocks; a place where the elites and the led are not on equal pedestal; a place where the masses ought to be lucky to kiss the Athlete’s Foot of their Chief Servant. He is not alone. There are thousands of men like him in positions of authority.
There are many in positions of power that have come to see the masses as conquered people and their victory (or rigging) at the polls as proof of their destiny.
From that height, the lives of the masses is often worth nothing. From that height, the masses are just means and justice is the will of the stronger. From that height, the masses ought to be grateful for the very fact that gods even listen to their bullshit. This is why we still protest.