With the recent spike in the rate of organized protest against the infamous Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) all over Nigeria by young persons, stakeholders and prominent Nigerians have been calling on the government to scrap the Special police unit created to combat crime.
Whilst a few think that scrapping SARS would increase the rate of crimes in the country, a great number of people, most of whom have been victims of SARS harassment, think the police Unit should be totally scrapped.
One of such persons is Hon. Chinonso Onyebuchi, a #YouthLead Nigeria Advocate, businessman and one time contender for State House of Assembly representing the Oji River constituency in the 2019 general elections.
In this interview, he tells us his painful experience in the hands of the F-SARS men and why he thinks the unit should be scrapped.
>>>See excerpts below<<<
May We Meet You Sir?
My name is Hon. Chinonso Onyebuchi, I am a young Nigerian Businessman, a Youth advocate and a grassroots politician. I also contested for member, State house of Assembly in the just concluded elections.
There is a current rise in the Protest against THE F-SARS by young Nigerians across the country, what is your take on this?
I must say that the ongoing protests nationwide by young Nigerians calling for the disbandment of the notorious F-SARS is not misplaced.
It is quite unfortunate that the men who were given the tasks of protecting us have turned themselves into notorious criminals and harbingers of death.
It is only those who have not experienced their brutality that will still be asking that they be left alone.
Personally, I have been unfortunate enough to taste their brutality first hand, and in both occasions, it cost me dearly, both emotionally and financially.
My first experience was during the nationwide lockdown. I was trapped in Lagos and needed to go back to the east with my friend, all flights were grounded so we had to charter a bus. Whilst on the road, we were stopped by operatives of SARS. As usual, we were searched despite not spotting the usual dreadlocks or rugged jeans that are trademarks of victims. They found our phones on us, 4 iPhones, belonging to me and my friend. Phones I bought with money made legally, I am a business man I use these phones for business.
Instantly, they told the driver to leave us, and he did leave. We were left alone with those evil men, with no witness whatsoever, we could have been killed easily. What seemed like a normal stop and search routine became a kidnap case. These SARS guys kidnapped us and took us to a place in the bush.
They told us point blank that if we wanted freedom we had to pay a million naira for our release. I was shocked, a million naira for owning iPhones? Since when did owning phones become illegal?
Because we were alone in the bush, I knew the dangers we faced, we had always read about SARS killing people unprovoked, so we cooperated.
To my surprise, they had their own special POS merchant. They called the guy and he somehow located the bush were they held us to ransom. When he came, they forced me and my friend to withdraw N1.1million naira and give to them in cash…Only then were we released to go,
we paid over 1million naira for being young Nigerians, just like that.
Another time I was stopped at a checkpoint by SARS while driving my SUV. As a law abiding Nigerian, I stopped to be inspected since I wasn’t a criminal and didn’t have a reason to run. But that was my mistake, immediately I rolled down my window, one of the officers threw a half smoked weed into my car. In broad daylight, I saw him do it. Before I could say jack, they pounced on me, accusing me of smoking weed. They threatened to kill me and forced me to pay 40k at the spot. I still have details of all of these transactions.
Did you report the cases when you were released?
I tried to report both cases, but till date, nothing has been done about them and it is saddening. If they could do those things to me a well-known person, then you can imagine the fate of common Nigerian youths.
These people have brought nothing but disgrace and shame, to the Nigerian police force.
They have made many young women widows, turned many children fatherless, they have brought nothing but pains and anguish to the Nigerian people. They should be eradicated before things get out of hand.
Don’t you think scrapping the UNIT would do more harm than good?
I don’t believe so, I mean, there are other units in the Police Force for combating crime, SARS should be scrapped before they kill every young person with a clean skin and good car. As a matter of urgency, , the entire police force should be reformed because I know once SARS is disbanded, the unscrupulous elements amongst them would be sent to other departments and that could pose further risk as well.
So the entire police force should be reformed, and the men and women of the force re-trained. The riot act should be read to them and they should be made to understand that their job is to protect Nigerians not kill and maim them.
The ongoing protest is long overdue, and I hope this time around the government listens to Nigerians and acts accordingly before things go out of hand. They shouldn’t pay lip service to the cries of the people like they did in 2018. They should nip this trend in the bud before Nigeria becomes uninhabitable.
This interview was conducted by Wilson Levi, for the Progressive Leadership Among Youths TV.
This interview should not be used in part or whole without permission from The Sight News