#BounceExclusive: Why Are Lagosians Afraid Of Faceless SARS?
Have you ever been stopped by mufti-wearing weapon wielding men who claim to be law enforcement agents supposedly on stop and search duty?
If you have, chances are that, just like the rest of us, rather than feel like a man in contact with the police, you felt you were being attacked by armed robbers.
That was the scenario for Osita Nwoye while driving along the Customs office in Ikeja about 1PM on Wednesday, November 15.
“There was a hold up and someone knocked on the passenger's window. I looked up and saw someone in black and I asked, ‘what is it’?
“Next thing, someone else appeared in front of my car and another by my window. They both instructed me to park. Both instructed me to ‘come down’ pointing their weapons,” he shared on Facebook.
These were fierce-looking middle-aged men in jeans and T-shirts, with no name tags or force IDs.
But of course, with AK47 pointed at him, the young man had no choice but to obey the orders.
“I parked properly, got down and realised they wear wearing black SARS Polos, Jeans with slippers. I was told to open my car booth which I did.
"What is in that bag?" one asked. "My laptop" he replied. Then, they ordered his passenger to move into the back seat for one of them to occupy it.
With no offence and no evidence of any crime committed, he was about to be arrested. So, he had to seek help but even his attempt to make a call was met with another shout, "cut that phone".
And then, they gave the next order that showed Nwoye that this was likely not going to end well.
He was asked to enter their own vehicle – a minibus painted in the Lagos danfo yellow with the popular black lines to match but with no registration number.
“I told them while shouting that there is no way I would be entering their unmarked vehicle.
“More people began to gather as I continued my shouting, insisting everything should be done in public.
“They asked for an ID card and I showed them my driver's license. They threatened to slap me but I still refused to enter.
“They seemed unsure of what to do next, so they asked me to go. I said I was not going and would rather stay put (obviously to prevent being accosted away from the Customs office).
“So, they murmured and then grudgingly left. I waited a bit before I left.”
VIDEO: MEET THE ARMED ROBBER WHO OPERATES ON HIS STREET
This story looks familiar? Yes, many innocent Lagosians have been victims of such random arrests and some still have bitter tales to tell.
Speaking to Bounce News, Nwoye recalled how he attempted to report the issue to the Lagos State Police Command through their public hotlines.
Unfortunately, they seemed more helpless than the victim. “The person I spoke to was obviously tired,” he said.
But one issue is that he was given the impression that unlike the regular SARS, these were men of Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and they are not under the Lagos Commissioner of Police.
Is this really how SARS is set up? Are there policemen that do not report to the state commissioner of police?
If this is so, then which of the SARS will be affected by the reforms being worked on by the Lagos state police commissioner as directed by the Inspector-General of Police?
Our attempts to clear the air with the Lagos Police PRO proved unproductive as he was unavailable to speak with us.
If there was any doubt that men of SARS are oppressing innocent Nigerians, this is one proof.
While we continue to seek concrete reaction from the police command, these are questions for the police authorities.
Why do men of their Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) go about dressed like armed robbers?
How do you explain a man on T-shirt and jeans holding an AK47 and ordering you to stop your car without showing any ID?
With many cases of kidnapping all over the country, how are we supposed to consider it normal when being ordered by such red-eyed men into an unmarked commercial bus?
Imagine if this incident happened in the middle of the night with no one around, what would have been the fate on this young innocent Nigerian?