Photograph — Ventures Africa

Rated as the worst police force in the world, the Nigeria Police Force has been facing a severe backlash from young Nigerians over the spate of human rights abuses and extortion. A few days after the #EndSARS campaign began on social media, a campaign to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force, this beleaguered government body has angered Nigerian youths again even while the spotlight is still on them.

Mr Moses Motoni, a project tracking officer for BudgIT Nigeria was allegedly arrested by operatives of SARS in Kaduna state, Nigeria yesterday. BudgIT Nigeria, as described by PremiumTimes, is “an organisation that uses technology and data tools to promote transparency in the private and public sectors,” an important role to play considering the lack of transparency in both the private and public sector.

In a series of tweets by BudgIT yesterday, the company narrated how Mr Motoni was allegedly arrested for sensitizing citizens in Niger state on the budget and projects in their consituency, a move that caught the attention of the senator in charge of the constituency, Senator Sani Mustapha and seemingly angered him. It is alleged that Senator Mustapha sent SARS operatives to arrest Mr Motoni in Kaduna, after the latter moved there when he finished the sensitization program in Niger state. SARS operatives, disguised as DHL workers, arrested him.

However, the police force released Mr Motoni on bail a few hour ago, citing the reason for his arrest as “a case of Inciting Public Disturbance reported against him which occurred on the 1st and 2nd of December, 2017 at Gbako, Tandzun and Bida Villages on Federal Constituency Project.” The police force also debunked the earlier notion that Mr Motoni was arrested by SARS officials. They claim he was arrested by a ‘police team’, as if that would explain why he was moved from Kaduna to Abuja in secret or why they are seemingly trying to exonerate SARS officials after the backlash in the media against them.

This latest controversial arrest seems to imply, like all the previous times there’s been agitations, that the NPF is tone deaf. The official social media accounts of the Nigeria Police Force have created their own version of the #EndSARS campaign, #ReformSARS, meaning perhaps the NPF is not willing to let go of this terrorizing arm SARS. And despite the order from the Inspector General of Police for the reorganisation of SARS, nothing has changed.

Apart from the extrajudicial killings and extortion from SARS on citizens, the knack for using members of the Nigerian Police Force to harass and intimidate citizens is another reason why the #EndSARS campaign should also include a wider reform. Disbanding SARS should be the starting point, and not the end point for the agitation; a total reform of the Nigeria Police force, ranked the worst in the world, should be the ultimate aim.

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