At this point, nothing that Yomi Shogunle says should be shocking. The Acting Commissioner of Police has, for himself, created an online identity notorious for trolling and parcelling out banter, unappetizingly speaking in millenialese and being simply unbearable, in the way he continues to draw more negative attention to the image of the police and the office he occupies.
With the #EndSARS campaign currently having an online resurgence, due to recent killings and bodily harm wrought by the police’s anti-robbery unit SARS, Shogunle’s advice to Nigerians is that they desist from speaking Queen’s English to SARS/police officers to avoid being killed. Instead, Nigerians should speak pidgin. Here’s the tweet right below, and utterly shameful:
Nice one 👍.
Lagos State will be calm if police chiefs in #Lagos do more of this.
Source: RRS Lagos
cc: @PoliceNG_CRU#YSGuide: For now, don’t go and be speaking Queen’s English with them on the road. For proper understanding talk to them in Pidgin, another way to avoid kasala. pic.twitter.com/9MgT7VNJn9
— Abayomi Shogunle (@YomiShogunle) April 17, 2019
Where do I begin with this insensitive statement? First, it pisses on the memory of victims who have lost their lives in the hands of trigger-happy SARS officers. It dishonors them, and the trauma it has brought to their families. More to the point, the statement implies that speaking pidgin to these SARS officers could have averted their deaths. Shogunle packages his advice like a permanent solution to tackling the horrors of police brutality. Only that it’s not.
Police brutality has nothing to do with communication or the language adopted, but the fact that power is being wielded. The Nigerian Police Force has an ugly, grotesquely overbearing face, and a toxic orientation of intimidation in the context of openly carrying firearms. As such, innocent Nigerians continue to pay the price for its excesses. Comparatively, Shogunle advising Nigerians to stick to speaking pidgin is like men telling women that, in order to avoid being raped, they need to wear clothes that aren’t revealing or skimpy, or refuse the offer to follow a guy to his house, or not walk on the streets at night.
It’s problematic in that it puts the onus on women to expend energies in keeping themselves safe, which rarely happens, and protects rapists by enabling their degrading acts. It’s rooted in rape apologia. Likewise, putting the responsibility on Nigerians to avoid being killed by SARS rather than punishing or expunging trigger-happy officers will only make SARS brutality persist. Perhaps, drawing this parallel between SARS brutality and sexual assault on women will make men see how ridiculous it sounds to tell women what to do to avoid being raped.