The impact of police brutality on a folks can’t be examined with out first listening to their stories.
In gentle of the protests in opposition to police brutality. I reached out to the tech neighborhood to gather stories of those that have had unsavoury encounters with the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
Nigerian techies are a demographic which have borne the brunt of focused harassment and brutality. This is as a result of for probably the most half, they match the profile of those that unscrupulous parts within the NPF purpose to reap the benefits of. They are younger, tech-savvy and (typically) look completely different.
In this text, I report the stories of 5 Nigerians who’ve been harassed by officers of the NPF, particularly the infamous Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
Note: One of the stories is from a Nigerian who’s a pilot. Faced with the selection of whether or not to publish his story or not, I made a decision to.
Feyisayo, 24 (Male) – Product Designer Lead at Cowrywise
Mine was in January 2018. I had determined to get some curtains in Tejuosho market, Yaba, so I took a bus. As quickly as I alighted, two males got here in the direction of me and mentioned, “Eyys, you, come here!” One was wearing a uniform and the other wasn’t.
I was shocked and thought maybe I’d done something wrong. Before I had the chance to ask, they started dragging me by the trouser towards a danfo bus where four other policemen were. They asked for my phone and kept calling me a fraudster. I brought out my school ID card to show them (I was a student at Unilag then). They didn’t regard it; instead, they pushed me into their bus.
Inside the bus, they started punching and slapping me. One of them made me unlock my phone after which they started going through my messages, pictures, apps, email transaction alerts. All the while, they kept repeating “You’re a yahoo boy”. I attempted arguing with them that I wasn’t a fraudster, however one in every of them hit me exhausting within the head together with his fist.
Eventually, they searched my pockets and noticed 4 ATM playing cards from completely different banks in there. All the playing cards had been registered in my title, and I stored them as again up. Unfortunately, seeing 4 playing cards was all they wanted to make up their minds about me being a fraudster.
Read: Nigerian Tech Community fights again in opposition to SARS
One of them requested me to open my cellular banking app. I used to be so shaken I couldn’t even bear in mind my account quantity. Then one other one urged we go to the ATM so they might verify my account stability. They requested for ₦20,000 and threatened to waste me if I didn’t comply. I began begging one in every of them in Yoruba. I advised him that ₦5,000 was all I had. The automotive had been transferring all of the whereas. When I regarded exterior the window from this hellish bus, we had been at Costain (29 KM away from the place they picked me).
They lastly dropped me off at Costain and gave me one in every of my ATM playing cards to withdraw so I might get my issues again. Part of me needed to protest and get them to take me to their station. But that they had weapons. What if there was no station? I simply withdrew the cash and gave them. I used to be grateful I wasn’t with my laptop computer as a result of it’d have been a lot worse.
Related: Cowrywise has donated ₦1 million to the #EndSARS Fund to help the protest in opposition to police brutality.
Joseph, 27 (Male) – Pilot
It was an unlucky day in December 2019. I had simply come again into the nation and was going to a good friend’s celebration with my cousins. They stopped us round 7-up bus-stop, Ikeja. The NPF operatives requested us to return down, which we obliged. Then they began asking us foolish questions like “where are you coming from?” and “what do you have in your boot?”
I answered all their questions with out hesitation. Then the chief of the operation known as me ahead and began looking out my pockets. In the method, among the males insulted my cousins and known as them prostitutes. An argument ensued, and one of many officers cocked his gun.
At that time, I stepped between them and advised my cousins to let me converse with the officers. While I used to be making an attempt to speak to the police officers, they grabbed my shirt and requested that I open my cellphone for them. When I opened the cellphone, I attempted calling my Dad, who by the way is a policeman.
When they seen I used to be making a name, the chief of the policemen began punching and slapping me. They grabbed my cellphone and had been going by means of it whereas concurrently planning to place me in custody. Eventually, one of many males looking out my cellphone got here and advised the boss that there was nothing incriminating in regards to the photos on my cellphone, so that they let me go.
I needed to get handled as a result of my eyes had been bloody and swollen. I had extreme physique ache for days. It’s a pity I’m not within the nation now; I’d have joined the protests.
Yele Bademosi, 29 (Male) – CEO of Bundle Africa and Founder of Microtraction
Yele is the CEO of Bundle, a fast-rising fintech startup and founding father of Microtraction, one of many nation’s main Angel funding companies. Yele’s story was shared on his Twitter account: @yelebademosi.
On October 2019, I used to be kidnapped by SARS. I used to be lower than two minutes from my dwelling. They refused to take heed to something I mentioned and took me from Lekki to Ajah, then all the way in which to Ikoyi, while stopping and harassing different younger adults. I’m undecided what number of automobiles they stopped and robbed. They took my telephones, pockets, home key, my Apple Watch, didn’t care about my ID playing cards, and claimed I used to be a Yahoo Boy. All as a result of I had messages on telegram with foreigners.
They demanded ₦1 million from me, made a “fake” cellphone name to their commander, and mentioned I’d sleep in jail. They stopped on the finish of Eko Bridge and demanded more cash earlier than driving me to someplace on the mainland close to the worldwide airport. I don’t hold a number of Naira on me as I’m lengthy Bitcoin, and solely had ₦51,000 in my account, which they requested me to withdraw at a UBA ATM.
They compelled me to open my US financial institution accounts and mentioned I ought to switch USD from my Bank of America account to my GTB. I cried and prayed as a result of I did not know what to do and could not perceive why and the way this was occurring. It was one of many scariest experiences of my life.
I couldn’t name anybody, nobody knew the place I used to be, and in the event that they harmed or killed me, there was nothing that might have occurred to them. It didn’t matter what I had carried out, or who I used to be. All they noticed was a younger man they had been hell-bent on taking as a lot they may from. This all occurred between 10.30 PM to 1.30 AM in October 2019.
Daniel, 26 – (Male) – Product Designer at Walletsafrica
It occurred in 2018 at Ketu, Lagos. I had simply began studying net improvement. On my approach to a presentation I used to be already late for, I bumped into the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operatives. They stopped me and requested to look my bag. I complied.
When they noticed my laptop computer, they proceeded to look it too. Putting on my laptop computer, they noticed codes on my display screen and instantly accused me of being a hacker. They mentioned I used my PC to hack bank cards. I instantly burst out laughing as a result of I assumed it was humorous. But they didn’t discover it humorous. They threw me in a bus, seized my cellphone to stop me from contacting anybody, and began driving in the direction of CMD Road.
Along that route, they picked up one other man in a blue shirt and tie. He regarded like he was going to an interview. They threw the blue file he was carrying into a close-by canal. He virtually dove with the file. He begged for them to let him choose up his credentials that had been scattered on the ground; they didn’t pay attention. They threw each of us within the automotive and drove us to an ATM, the place I used to be compelled to withdraw ₦10,000 for them to regain my freedom.
I attempted begging for the opposite man and I’d have paid for him if I had more cash. I don’t know what occurred to him that day. I hope he’s secure.
David, 21 (Male) – User Experience Designer
I’ll share two experiences that I’ve had with them.
The first time, I used to be heading to purchase meals from Chicken Republic round 7 PM when a bus stopped subsequent to me and my mates. Men dressed like civilians however holding weapons got here down from the bus and pointed weapons at us. One of us tried to run however an officer pointed a gun at him and threatened to shoot.
They mentioned my mates and I raided a spot at Bariga — a suburb in Lagos State. I began laughing as a result of I couldn’t even run hundred metres. “How can someone look at me and profile me an armed robber?” While I used to be nonetheless laughing, an officer dragged me by the shirt and pushed me into the bus whereas the others stored their weapons firmly pointed at my mates. They received them to enter into the bus, drove us round for a bit and at last took us to the police station.
Read: StopRobbingUs “It is illegal. Tell them to stop”
On attending to the police station, they requested us to establish ourselves, I attempted to introduce myself however they insisted that I shut up and convey an ID Card. I simply stepped out to get meals so I didn’t assume it was essential to convey ID. I advised them I used to be a designer working at a tech firm in Yaba (Hotels.ng). My mates launched themselves too.
When we had been carried out, they gave us information to jot down statements and threatened us, saying we had been going to spend the night time at Kirikiri. At that time, I texted my HR on the workplace to return to our rescue. I additionally tried to name my uncle who’s a naval captain however they seen and seized my cellphone.
We refused to jot down any assertion and tried to purchase time for our HR to reach. When my HR lastly arrived, we had been requested to pay bail of ₦10,000 every. We paid the cash and received out of that case comparatively unscathed. We received out round 10 PM; every thing occurred inside 3 hours.
The second encounter was barely a month in the past. I used to be in an uber with my mates. We had simply gotten to Maye Street, Sabo when the officers descended on us. They pointed weapons at us and advised us to return down. They didn’t give any cause and insisted that we enter their automobiles.
I attempted asking what our offence was however the commanding officer mentioned I used to be very silly and began dragging me in the direction of their automotive. I screamed and requested for his ID card. Instead of figuring out himself, he pointed his gun to my face and advised me to enter the automotive. I used to be furious. I shouted much more, daring him to shoot me. He slapped me and dragged me into the minivan, tearing my shirt within the course of.
They took my mates and I from that avenue to the entrance of the army barracks at Yaba. We had been the one ones there and it was late (round 11 PM). There was a automotive in entrance of us with its headlights on. The driver of the automotive we had been in horned so the opposite automotive would swap its lights off however he received no response. One of them received right down to deal with the unresponsive driver within the different automotive.
All the whereas I’d been murmuring within the automotive that I used to be going to name my dad who works with the SSS. It was a barefaced lie however it appeared to get us out of the scenario. One of the operatives cosied as much as me, telling me that if I cooperated, they’d let me go. They ultimately went by means of our telephones for about 10 minutes and advised us to get out of the automotive. We needed to get one other Uber to take us dwelling.
We are nonetheless seeking to publish extra stories on police brutality in Nigeria. If you need to share your story, you may attain me at [email protected]