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Nigerian youths just want to live their lives
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Nigerian youths just want to live their lives

Illegal arrests, extortion, brutality, and the killing of innocent Nigerians by the country’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have sparked protests which are continuing throughout this week. Nnabugwu Chukwuebuka, a 26-year-old Nigerian Correspondent argues that the youths have been traumatized by SARS and just want to live their lives.

After one of my regular phone conversations with my friend some weeks ago in which we laughed most of the time; he told me, “I had gotten hungry earlier today, so I decided to go get food. On hearing that SARS was in the area, I went back to my room. After all hunger ‘no dey finish’. In other words, he would rather remain hungry than run the risk of facing the horrors of police brutality being meted out to the youth by SARS.

I had laughed over it when he said it, but later, it became a cause for concern as I reflected on the collective trauma Nigeria’s youth have experienced because of SARS. My friend who is a software developer was scared of the men in uniform. 

Over the years, there have been several reported cases of the abuse of power by SARS operatives in the country. There have also been reports of unjust killing of innocent citizens by these armed men. This special task force that was formed to curb violent crimes has been mistreating Nigerians.

NO MORE!! #ENDSARS

A massive protest is now taking place in Nigeria as day after day, people have been voicing their dissatisfaction, fears, and pain over police brutality. It is one of the ironies of the 21st century; civilians, mostly youths are protesting against those who are meant to protect them. They are protesting against individuals who swore the oath of selflessness and service with love; those who are paid to look after the masses and relieve their fears. In as much as it sounds weird, it is real.

It is not news that Nigeria is suffering from great economic depression, and people are really finding it difficult to survive with these harsh economic realities. SARS was supposed to be cracking down on criminal activities that economic hardship has bred. However, what is really surprising to many has been the high rate of abuse of power by SARS operatives that has been reported.

I would be very wrong to say all SARS operatives have been bad, however, as a popular African proverb says, “It only takes one bad egg to ruin the basket of eggs”. In this case, there have been many bad eggs beautifully dressed in police uniforms, equipped with lethal and non-lethal weapons, who have been terrorising Nigerians.

This year, during the pandemic one would think that Nigerians would only be battling with COVID-19, but the youths have battled against SARS more than they have fought COVID-19. Dissatisfaction has been accumulating in the hearts of many. Parents have been denied the lives of their children, friends have said an untimely goodbye to their loved ones, while siblings have experienced magmatic eruptions of hatred as a result of the denial of the right to life of their loved ones.

It is an accumulation of pain.

Amnesty International reports that about 82 cases of unjust treatment were carried out by SARS operatives during the January 2017- May 2020 period.

In a bid to solve these cases, the Nigerian Government has only recently announced the banning of this special unit.

Nigerian youths have had a hard time, they’ve been afraid to go out, as they could be victims of SARS. There has been a denial of their freedom of expression, lack of freedom of movement, lack of freedom of speech. It has been a crime to dress, a crime to use expensive gadgets, and even a crime to have a hairstyle of your choice, since these are all “signs of criminal alignment.”

The youths have never asked for anything in Nigeria, they have been sidelined politically and they have been deprived of a good education.

All they are now asking is for the right to live, the right to express themselves, and the right to make friends without having to worry unnecessarily about losing their lives.

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Photo Credit: Main image is from Reuters via BBC News

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About Nnabugwu Chukwuebuka: Moving on, seeing, analysing and predicting has always been my desire, as making it concrete in form of writing has been my passion. I am Nnabugwu Chukwuebuka, and have obtained my first degree in geology from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. I’m a free writer on political and ethical issues. Making a positive impact on the nation has always been my dream.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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