“Social media is a technology available to those criminally minded and we have to be careful about how we respond to these clamoring. SARS is a unit of police that I believe is to be retained.’’
This statement was made by Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, exactly four weeks ago while fielding questions from journalists on the continuous call by Nigerians on social media, for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigerian Police Force, which according to them has engaged in several acts of human rights abuse.
The IGP downplayed the validity of the #EndSARS campaign started by a Twitter user @segalink with the support of other Nigerians.
Two days ago, the #EndSARS campaigners won a major victory through the August 14, 2018 directive by the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo for a total overhaul of the unit, by limiting their activities to only cases of robbery, kidnapping and apprehension of offenders linked to such crimes alone.
This directive is a big shame on the IGP. That it took the Acting President to direct an overhaul before carrying out his constitutional responsibility, is evidence that Ibrahim Idris is not fit for the exalted position he currently occupies.
The way Idris and other members of the force, especially Yomi Shogunle derided the #ENDSARS campaigners was unprofessional and sometimes, outrightly cruel. Yomi Shogunle especially, has done unforgivable things including his last attempt to undermine the #EndSARS movement by setting up a ‘competition’ where he offered Twenty Five Thousand Naira as prize money for any video evidence of police brutality from Nigerian police officers.
This was indeed ridiculous, considering the number of videos that had already been shared with him about police brutality across the country.
Today, the #EndSARS campaigners won without a public protest but through the social media. The lesson here is that the social media can be a tool for social change and its high time political leaders used the platform not just to share pictures of their activities but to relate with their citizens. Millions of Nigerians are on social media and it cuts across the thirty six states of the federation.
The power of Social media is limitless and the success we’ve achieved in public activism in our nascent democracy has been a product of the social media. Examples abound in #OCCUPYNIGERIA #ENOUGHISENOUGH #OPENNASS #PVC #FREEAUDU #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN with the latest being #ENDSARS.
Social media has come to stay in Nigeria and it’s important we continue to use it to drive positive conversations that will engender continuous development of our nationhood.