A year after the Maj Gen (Rted) Buhari-led regime was forced to disband Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), the Nigeria Police unit which is infamous for its notoriety, police brutality and extrajudicial arrests continue. In the early hours of Tuesday 12 October, the Nigeria Police from the Ile-Epo police station in Agbado Oke-Odo LCDA, attempted to arrest David, a 14-year-old teenage boy during their usual but illegal “raiding”.
The police attempted to whisk the victim away without any warrant or stating the grounds of his arrest or informing him of his rights. That is a gross violation of his right to liberty, the approach is very synonymous to the approach of bandits who forcefully kidnap for ransom.
The young boy stood his ground and resisted the illegal arrest by the four gun wielding men of the Nigeria Police. That got the attention of commuters and traders around the area. The police were forced to abandon their criminal operation as people gathered to intervene in the situation. That is a practical manifestation of a popular barricade song; “when people take over street, take over streets… all oppressors them go run away, when people take over streets”.
The event of Tuesday is not an isolated one, the Abule Egba/Ile-Epo axis in recent time is now marred with all sorts of unlawful police activities, such as profiling, illegal arrests, extortion of motorists and commuters alike, among others. Those are characteristics of the so-called disbanded SARS, which further establish that the rottenness in the Nigeria Police is deep-rooted and a clear reflection of the Nigeria repressive state. It is more worrisome that the whole thing happened in front of the Local Council Secretariat at Abule-Egba/Oja-Oba under bridge, beside the BRT bus terminal.
It must be noted that the police left the teenage victim badly assaulted that he had to seek medical attention. He was beaten and sprayed with tear gas. The family of the victim approached the Ile-Epo police station to report criminal activities of their “boys”, and also to seek redress and justice for the victim. That was frustrated by the lacklustre attitude of the Nigeria Police at the violation of fundamental rights of a teenager. A police officer at the station was heard saying “what do you want us to do now, after all your boy is freed?”. We are saying the four policemen that joined in assaulting David must be publicly prosecuted for their criminality.
The Nigeria Police as we have it today was built on a criminal structure to support and enable the exploitation of the majority by some handful few. Of course, we will recall the colonial background of the Nigeria Police. Also, we can draw some parallels between the Iva Valley massacre of 1949 coal miners struggle and the Lekki Toll gate massacre where over 100 peaceful #EndSARS protesters were murdered in cold blood.
A year after the massive working-class youth revolt over 300 youths are still being held in various detention facilities with trumped up charges. The Nigeria Police continues to perpetrate atrocities which they are known for. Clearly the Nigerian state is organized by the bosses against the interest of the poor and working masses in Nigeria. But if there is only one lesson we must draw from #EndSARS, it is that in our unity and determination to resist lies the power to bring to birth a new system that works for all. It is on that basis we must resist oppression and demand justice for David and all victims of police brutality.
Workers’ organizations particularly the trade unions must rise to the occasion of mobilizing working-class people for real change from below and must do that now.
by Lai BROWN