Security agents, especially the Police are primary meant to secure citizens and ensured their safety. But for Kolade Johnson, he was cut down in his prime by those who should have rescued him from harm’s way. The people who should secure him from harm riddled his body with bullets and ended his life.
That is the pathetic and sad reality of what the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, infamously known as SARS, has turned themselves into on our society. Just as his lover tearfully wrote on her Twitter page hours after the incident, the government, and most importantly, the people who should ensure his safety, failed him.
“My Kaylo Boy is gone! My ‘Lion’ … my chef… my precious Kolade Johnson… I’m so sorry it ended this way… I’m sorry I wasn’t there to stop the bleeding… I’m sorry the government failed you… I’m sorry. Uncle @segalink; @PoliceNG @MBuhari @ProfOsinbajo @BBCAfrica look at what SARS did to my Kay. Nigerians see oo. His only offence was going out to watch football. Thank you very much for the support everyone,” Stephany George tweeted.
Indeed, she was right. Instead of securing Nigerians, SARS have constituted themselves to the same dangerous evil they were initially meant to confront. SARS is a special unit of the Nigeria Police to confront the country's most heinous crimes– armed robbery, kidnapping, assault and murder, and guarantee the safety of citizens. But rather, unfortunately, has become a vicious and gruesome squad that is now dreaded by Nigerians.
For some time now, Police brutality have been a great concern to Nigerians and created mistrust between them and the security agents. Even more disturbing is the impunity with which the Police, especially SARS, excessively inflict injury on citizens, and in some cases, reign gunshots on Nigerians without justification.
Stories of Nigerians unlawfully picked on the streets, beaten and extorted or maimed are heard daily, stirring fears on the minds of the people about their safety because those who're responsible for their safety have turned to be their oppressor. SARS impunity and uncanny attitude have turned a nightmare for the people and Kolade Johnson gruesome murder is another example.
Kolade Johnson did not deserve to die but for the brazen impunity of SARS personnel, Nigeria has lost a promising and talented soul. He wasn't a criminal just as many others who have suffered similar unfortunate fate but the irresponsible and reckless attitude of Ogunyemi Olalekan, who has thrown his family and loved ones into grief.
The painful loss of Kolade Johnson has again proved the call for #ReformPoliceNG and #ENDSARS right as that is the only way for every one of us to be safe. It's Kolade Johnson today, it may be anyone tomorrow if this unprofessional squad is not disbanded. The unending cruel and strong-arm tactics of SARS is too frightening and this experience must end.
Nigerians can no longer rely on their tormentor for their safety. Security should be done with responsibility, not becoming the same threat the people are running away from. Aside from the gruesome murder of Kolade Johnson, many Nigerians have a bitter experience to share on their encounter with SARS.
From the streets to leisure spots, cases of SARS personnel ambushing citizens and molesting them with impunity is widespread. Roles outside its scope of duty, such as harassing young people for 'immoral' dressings, physical appearance and other petty grounds, just to extort and molest citizens were some of the features that captured the reign of impunity of SARS.
This was probably echoed by Dr. Joe Abah, who tweeted on his handle @DrJoeAbah that "Being young is NOT a crime. Having dreadlocks is NOT a crime. Sagging your jeans is NOT a crime. Having tattoos and piercings is NOT a crime. The big crime is the police harassing and killing the innocent youth they are paid to protect, and nobody stopping them."Indeed, being young shouldn't be a crime and a reason for SARS vicious treatment.
Though, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ordered reform of SARS last year after weeks of calls for their scrap, that remain to be seen as their impunity continue unchecked. From the look of things, it is clear that SARS is averse to reforms and the only remedy to their rampaging impunity against Nigerians is for them to be scrapped. I join millions of Nigerians in the call to #ENDSARS and #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY for all of us to be safe.
Oke Umurhohwois a Political Analyst and Strategist. He can be reached via [email protected]