My preference may be disturbing to you but don’t get me wrong – I wish Nigeria and the world at large could successfully defeat the coronavirus in time and end police brutality completely or at least reduce it to the barest minimum.
The year 2020 saw the widespread of the novel COVID-19 that crippled the economies and grinded man’s activities to a screeching halt for months. As part of measures to curb the spread of this disease, countries across the world – Nigeria inclusive – imposed lockdowns. By March, our country and its citizens experienced a new way of life.
Markets, clubs, offices, airports, bars and even places of worship were shut down. Some of these activities moved online in an unprecedented way. From March to May, we saw what many people called ‘live scores’, daily. The country witnessed a spike in the cases of the disease, with Lagos, the federal capital territory (FCT) and later Kano taking the lead. Both prominent and non-prominent citizens lost their lives to the disease we didn’t know much about. Sad!
At this point, the wearing of face masks and compulsory washing of hands were becoming an uncomfortable norm. Despite these measures, this disease found a way to continue to wreak havoc on mankind. Although it is a known fact that Africa generally is doing low COVID-19 numbers compared to the rest of the world, the impact of the pandemic on the way life and the economy has since been felt across the continent.
Human beings will always find a way around challenges and that is why despite the devastating effects of the disease, there is still a ray of hope, especially as the vaccines against COVID are almost out of the works and may soon be readily available to all.
But before the outbreak of COVID-19 and its second wave, Nigeria had a myriad of challenges confronting it among which is police harassment and brutality. Prior to the #EndSARS protests of October, the country has witnessed at least two nationwide demonstrations on the same issue – but nothing changed.
You may agree with me that COVID-19 could no longer keep the youth indoors as there is a “greater” problem that needs to be addressed by governments at all levels. And that was why despite restrictions or protocols to curb against the spread of COVID, youth in their thousands, took to the streets across the country to call for disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and the holistic reformation of the police.
The demonstrations lasted for about two weeks and ended on October 22 after soldiers shot at protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos.
The federal government claims to have acceded to the five demands of the protesters; – immediate release of all arrested demonstrators, justice for all victims of police brutality, setting up an independent body to probe police misconduct, psychological evaluation and of all disbanded SARS officers and increase in the salary of police officers – but misconduct by police officers appears to be on the increase.
Also, not much has been heard about the disbanded personnel of SARS and the new unit said to be replacing them. All these appear to make citizens keep diminishing their trust in the authorities as far as police brutality is concerned.
The question that readily comes to mind is how can we reduce police brutality to a minimum. The world has made so much progress in a short time combating COVID, but whatever we do to address police brutality does not go anywhere. Why?
Do we need to exert the same energy we are using in combating this disease to address police brutality? We need to find something that actually works. No youth would not want to legitimately toil to earn a living only to be cut short by a police officer because they own an iPhone, keep dreads or drive a cool car.
With COVID there is a chance of survival but with police brutality? No!
You can reach Shibayan @justdyepis
Published at Mon, 04 Jan 2021 10:15:00 +0000