👤 By Adenike Lucas, EXCLUSIVE
Many would never believe that Sidney Esiri, a popular Afro beat star known as Dr Sid, can ever be mistaken for a yahoo boy.
But, a few weeks ago, he was man-handled by officers from the feared Special Anti-robbery Squad, SARS – a unit within the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, set up to curb robbery.
Instead of arresting just robbers, many law-abiding Nigerians like Dr Sid are documenting activities such as exploitation, abuse and ill treatment from the police division meant to stop similar crime in society.
An artist on the same record label as Dr Sid believes that if it were not because of his celebrity status, the Kabiyesi crooner might have had worse things done to him.
It is not only Dr Sid that has suffered such horrible experience in the hands of corrupt SARS officials.
Even a sitting Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West Senatorial District) was shoved and pushed by officers from the same command.
A quick search through social media platform such as Twitter and one can read other people’s experience.
Thankfully, many are starting to realise how bad things are and they are speaking out. Imagine, if Dr Sid can be “ruffled” by SARS, then it is clear no-one is safe from Nigerian corrupt officers in the dreaded anti-robbery wing.
It also shows that police brutality or extortion is an experience that many people – from all works of life in Nigeria – can relate to. It is why it has to be addressed.
Few weeks after Senator Melaye and Dr Sid’s experience, Segun Awosanya, the distinguished sir who is leading a campaign to #ENDSARS – a drive to end police brutality and extortion, has spoken to DENISAURUS News.
Mr Awosanya, popularly known as Sega Link, revealed that though he has never been exploited or faced police brutality, he is petitioning lawmakers to reform the Police and the Criminal Justice System.
He printed a “bus load of paper” and took it to the National Assembly and got a very good response from the leaders, however, the fight to restructure the police is yet from over.
Speaking to DENISAURUS News exclusively about the online movement pushing for reforms, Mr Awosanya known as Sega Link recalls a case when a person he knew was robbed by SARS. He said he ensured they reported the incident with the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni.
Mr Owoseni immediately asked for a surveillance to be done in the area. He asked that a patrol team be stationed at the scene should in case the perpetrators come back again.
“The next day, funny enough,” Sega Link narrates: “The guys took another man beat him up and where about to leave the ATM when they were all rounded up and arrested.”
Sega Link, who is in his 40s said: “They were the first set of officers to be arrested for such” and it was during Mr Owoseni’s tenure that this happened.
Seeing the reaction to the issue, Sega Link, a father of two teenage kids, said he noticed that police brutality was not limited to Lagos or Ibadan.
“I heard it was happening all around the country.” Stating that “whatever you allow will continue,” he was determined to fight on behalf of all others.
Armed with 113k followers, Sega Link is a highly influential man. His tweets attract much attention, which is why he encourages victims to tag him into their tweet whenever they are in trouble.
“Most of the victims are made to sign a report which would have implicated them. But, not reporting does not guarantee they would not do this to you again. There are people who are arrested four times in a week and each time they have to pay for their freedom”
But, why did he start the campaign if he has not experienced police brutality himself?
He said: “It is not until you have a personal experience before you begin to fight for a cause.
“You don’t have to let it get to you before you begin to know what it takes. If you understand what other people go through or you have emotional intelligence you should be able to tell how bad and the implication of actions if left unchecked could mean to people.”
All the same, he said, he is also fighting for the “future of my children.
“I have teenagers and also adolescents as nephews, nieces and what have you! I cannot imagine them saying they want to go out and I am going to be afraid. They cannot go out abroad and they cannot go out in Nigeria, we must not let what is going on outside where we cannot even speak or protest because we are second class or third class citizen happen here.”
Most people assume Nigerians are the only type of people that if pushed into the wall, would bounce back; you can never break a Nigerian, but Sega Link, a graduate from the prestigious University of Lagos, says he is not that kind of person.
“If you push me to the wall, I know that the heart that has all the capabilities of wonderful virtues also as the capability of evil.”
The activist, who is currently researching his PhD on Environmental sustainability, explains among other training – the military exercise he received as a teenager and how it has equipped him with the necessary skill that would fight off any potential bullies.
Despite, his close ties with Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, the minister of interior, Sega Link refuses to use his connections to gain favours. He says is no slave to any administration and would not “Osinbajolies” himself.
“People who are enlightened ought to be a light. Education is not filling a bucket; it is like lighting a candle, he said: “It is about shining your light. When you shine your light the darkness will naturally dissipate.”
Explaining further he said a lot of people voted for President Muhammadu Buhari because they knew he has a professor (Yemi Osinbajo) as his Vice, “at least if he does not know anything this one will know.”
So much for change that President Buhari and Prof Osinbajo promised during the 2015 campaign.
Despite promising to kill corruption and secure the nation from terrorist, Nigerians in the North-East are paying tax / levies to Boko Haram.
There has been increased killing of Christians in the North-Central. Last month, two priests, were murdered by Fulani herdsmen.
“But, when you are there, you claim to be a light and having fellowship with forces of darkness and you are ingratiating yourself with this forces of darkness and you’re turning a blind eye to all the promises, hope and aspiration that people have of you being there and then you betray everything that you have stood for.”
He adds: “Though I am not surprised by the VP acts, I thought at this level, at least pretend a little as a Christian. You cannot have a professor of law as a VP and the judiciary will be moribund and the legislature would be insulted and you overlook those things and start chanting inanities of people who should not even be dusting your shoes.
“So, that automatically proves my point that the professorial thing was bought politically and of course, the VP position was based on political relations, you are not there to act, you are there to be a rubber stamp!”
While, Sega Link was one of those who helped to put together the All Progressives Congress, he says he is not a member of the party.
He encourages participation in politics, but he also says change should be shown in every areas of life.
“We have all the resources, but our only problem is leadership. When we talk about leadership, people are thinking through the ballot box. But, everyone is talented and in every area of your talent show leadership from there.”
He adds: “Think of other people. Be mindful of others. If your life is not improving other people’s lives then you are doing something wrong.”