Celebrities in Nigeria have joined an online campaign to end the activities of notorious Nigerian special police unit known as the Special Anti – Robbery Squad (SARS).
The protest, which is a continuum of several protests in the past, was as a reaction to a recent Alleged killing of a young boy in Ugheli, Delta state by SARS officers. The victim who allegedly died when he was thrown off a moving police van allegedly had his jeep driven off by the officers after he went off the van.
A video of the incident, which went viral on Saturday, showed how there was confusion around the Wetland Hotel in the Ughelli area where the policemen allegedly killed the victim, and escaped with his vehicle – a white Lexus Sport Utility Vehicle.
The police action sparked an outrage on the social media, with many Nigerians condemning the police action and calling for urgent reforms using the hash tag #EndSars.
A Twitter user, who claimed to be an eyewitness, Ichie Teejay, wrote, “SARS just shot a young boy dead at Ughelli, Delta State, as we speak in front of Wetland hotels. They left him for dead on the roadside and drove away with the deceased Lexus jeep.”
While some eyewitnesses took to online microblogging sites to claim the victim had died on the spot, Barrister Festus Keyamo, Nigeria’s Minister of State, Labour and Employment, on Sunday said operatives of Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, did not kill anybody in Ughelli, Delta State.
Keyamo said information from the state Police Commissioner, in Ughelli, and the brother of the alleged victim, Ochuko proved the victim is not dead.
“I just spoke with both the Commissioner of Police, Delta State & the Area Commander in Ughelli where the unfortunate incident involving a young man & the Police took place yesterday. I also spoke with Ochuko, the victim’s brother. I was born, bred and raised in that same town.
“All of them said the victim is alive & receiving treatment. Whilst I totally condemn the extra-judicial killings by SARS & other Police outfits against defenseless citizens and call for comprehensive reforms and overhaul of the system, some facts of this case are as follows
“The outfit involved in this case is called Operation Delta Safe and not SARS (b) the victim was not shot as confirmed by his brother, but fell out of the Police vehicle when being taken to the station after arrest. The brother said he was pushed; the Police said he jumped.
“This is a picture of the victim in hospital this morning, showing injuries from the fall (c) the Police stopped to pick him up after the fall, but an angry mob had already gathered and the Police fled and left the victim (d) A Good Samaritan picked him & took him to hospital.”
Finally, I wish to appeal to the youths in Ughelli not to resort to violence and/or destruction of lives and properties. I am on top of this matter and though the victim is alive, I will be urging the authorities to still investigate the conduct of the Police in this matter.” Keyamo tweeted from his official Twitter account.
Politicians and Celebrities React
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, and a global rights group, Amnesty international, were among prominent voices which condemned the recurring SARS brutality.
Nigerian celebrities also joined the call for the government to end SARS. Music artistes Simi, Adekunle Gold, DJ Spinal, Don Jazzy, Rudeboy, Wizkid, Falz, and other celebrities including Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Omojuwa and the former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili among others joined voices to call for the end of SARS.
See some of their tweets below:
WizKid Attacks Buhari Over SARS
Nigerian international pop sensation, Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun aka Wizkid also joined his voice to the call for the Nigerian government to end SARS. Wizkid did so by attacking president Buhari on Twitter over the issue via a tweet that has now gone viral. See his tweet below:
Rudeboy makes a video to call for #EndSARS
Another famous musician in Nigeria and one of the duo of the defunct Psquare group, Paul Okoye aka Rudeboy has also joined his voice against the brutality of SARS.
In a video posted on his Facebook page, Rudeboy called on other celebrities’ to join in and condemn the atrocities committed by SARS.