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#ENDSARS: Righteous anger


Lekan Otufodunrin

LEADLINES of what to write about have a way of popping up in my head when I can’t make up my mind on the issue to focus on in this weekly column.

Sometimes, the headlines seems apt for the issue of the moment, but my journalism training and experience has taught me to be very sure of every word I use in either the headline or body text.

Last week when I wrote about the undue generosity of the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun for giving the winner of the Big Brother Nigeria Show N5 million and a house in addition to the total prize of N85m he won in the reality show, my first headline was to be Rewarding Inanities.

Although inanity has to do with something senseless or silly act or remark, which some analysts have likened the Governor’s action to, I didn’t want to be seen as insulting the governor for what he did. I liked the rhyme of Rewarding Inanities, but my goal was to fault the governor’s action in a way that he would see the point I was making and not indulge in such wasteful act again.

I hope I did and hopefully more deserving citizens of the state would be acknowledged and approximately rewarded.

This week, I struggled with using the word, Righteous Anger to describe the #ENDSARS protest that no one saw coming.

There have always been complaints about the brutality of some policemen and officers, especially the members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Instead of going after criminals, they are notorious for harassing innocent persons and extorting money from them. Some persons have been arrested, detained, tortured and killed in series of extra-judicial killings the squad have engaged in.

For too long, the SARS officers have carried on as if they are above the law and could not be called to order for their misdeeds.

Despite past promises by the Police authorities to reform the unit and ensure they strictly keep to their assignment of handling major armed robbery cases in accordance with the law, not much seem to have been done as various cases of human rights violation and abuses by SARS are recorded across the country regularly.

While acknowledging that the squad has succeed in handling some robbery cases and deserve commendation, the way some of its members have gone about their work has damaged whatever credit they should get. There are too many reports of SARS in action for the wrong reasons which necessitated the call to scrap the squad and continued demand to end Police brutality after the Inspector General of Police yielded to the call of the protesters

Indeed, the massive peaceful protests like never seen recently, can be aptly dubbed the Righteous Anger of especially the youths who have had enough of SARS and would not be easily persuaded by the response of the IG in dissolving the squad and replacing it with SWAT without any clearly articulated plan and overhaul of the Police system operations.

Can we blame the protesting youths for being angry about the lawlessness that pervades the country with those who are supposed to be law enforcement agents taking the laws into their hands?

Are the youths not justified in calling out the leaders to speak up on the state of the nation and spell out the steps to be taken to redress our gradual slide to anarchy?

All along, the youths have been accused of being Lazy and not interested in governance issues, now they have woken up to demand good governance for a guaranteed future.

#ENDSARS protests is indeed justifiable indignation which righteous anger is all about. While the protest lasts, it must be peaceful and hoodlums should not be allowed to hijack it to cause any crisis.

I commend the federal government for meeting  the demands of the protesters and it should keep exploring possible means of reassuring the youths of its determination to restore sanity in the Police force.

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