Last Friday, the Digital Media Practitioners of Nigeria (DMPN) held her first live Tweetchat where the convener of #EndSARS campaign, Sega Awosanya, was guest to share his opinions on the EndSARS and ReformSARS conversation. The interactive session was centered on Police brutality in Nigeria, perspectives and Interventions.

If you missed the Tweetchat, read full recap below:

 

Have you ever at any point been a victim of ill treatment by SARS?

This, Distinguished, is one of the most common questions I’ve been asked for over one year now. The simple answer is NO. But I will have you know that we live in an environment where empathy is scarce until people have a direct experience on the issue in question. This is not symptomatic of a society that grows or thrives but one suckling on Mutually Assured Destruction. I and others greater than I have chosen to be different. We have decided to take a deep stand for the voiceless and defenseless who are being oppressed daily by those weaponizing the monopoly of violence against the Nigerian State.

Knowing that the Special Anti-Robbery squad was created to swiftly combat Armed Robbery cases, don’t you think we should consider an alternative resolve to SARS brutality, considering the founding ideology of the body?

Affirmative Distinguished. An alternative must always be considered in everything we do. If we’re seeking to make a difference or something better (change), to make a contribution, the outcome is part of the work. If the outcome repeatedly doesn’t measure up, we should change what we’re doing. This is however a security matter and majority of our suggestions and recommendations as curated from deep research of years haven’t been made public. There are more proof, data and evidence that suggests the current approach with SARS being allowed to run amok and the unwitting suggestion to reform same, has failed and is dragging the entire nation into the bottomless chasm.

The most effective means of resolving this is to cut the Cancer and save the body, which is congruent with our objective (#EndSARS) and the corresponding end goal of #ReformPoliceNG Impunity has become a Cancer and culture of the police structure as empowered by the aged Police Act of 1943. The training manual of the Police is still very much reflective of the colonial era even in 2018.

It is also a militant ideology of the dark day of military interregnum to assume that force or firepower is what stops crime in our society of now. It however goes deeper than this. If we are going to have an elite SWAT Team, we should focus on that and not justify the arming of recidivists, political thugs, armed robbers, cultists and kidnappers by the State as constituted in the SARS and Police formation.

Has there been any form of formal reach out from the IG or Presidency to address the lingering Police brutality based on several cases shared online?

Not officially Distinguished. I must be very transparent here. I no longer represent myself online and each time I speak, I do so based on the regard for the #NewNigeria which is our Tribe forthwith. I’m thus circumspect with the issues that I raise. The President is aware, The Minister of Interior is aware and every politician across platforms are aware of this imbroglio but have chosen not to speak publicly about it for reasons best known to them.  It is either based on the fear of the unknown for the silent revolution that may follow after the loss of the monopoly of violence, for which every politician benefits from by the deliberate retention of Militarization of the police system even in a Democracy or based on backlash of their political party on the impact of this on 2019 Election.

 

This is why we have been very strategic and lawful about the advocacy. It is quite sensitive and requires a surgical approach that creates a win-win for all stakeholders however disruptive. The legislative have been very responsive and the root cause of the decay has been identified and addressed (Police Act) this a Bill has been sponsored to repeal and replace the Police Act creating a fundamental opportunity to Democratize the Police system and restore all the ingredients of democracy ranging from transparency to accountability across standard operating procedures.

Patriotic Officers within the police structure have been helpful as well in bringing erring officers and rogue policemen to book. With this collaboration, quite a number of the rogue police officers have been dismissed and awaiting arraignment for Armed Robbery, Murder, Kidnapping, Intimidation and Assault at various categories since 2017 that we started this advocacy.

As a convener and active participant in the #EndSARS advocacy, what are the challenges experienced in this journey so far? 

The #EndSARS #ReformPoliceNG Advocacy is just a single program out of many modules engineered towards raising awareness and Nation Building. A vision that was hatched over 10years ago even before the birth of Twitter. Being a Convener of this is no different (from my perspective that is) from being an ordinary citizen expressing himself within the social political space. The advocacy in its entirety wasn’t designed with vertical Collectivism in mind. Everyone is a leader in their own rights and we all apply ourselves side by side under the common ground and vision of the Cause. The Cause thus is superior to all and bigger than any individual.

 

My personal challenge however has been the difficulty in communicating through engagement a complex dynamic in simple terms while doing justice to the context and holistic vision which might be utopian to some until they experience the results as simulated. Looking back at the achievements thus far, one can only give thanks to God Almighty for His Grace and protection over us all. It is only God that gives increase regardless of our proficiency at planting and sowing.

 

It is the first of its kind void of desperation and strife for ownership (franchise), apolitical, and free for all platform that is not weaponized against the state or any political party for that matter. Its uniqueness and ubiquitous cum viral nature made it impossible to corrupt. The platform operates on the philosophy of the Blockchain model. Each block as connected to the main chain is self sustaining and can break further into different chains as aligned with the overall vision.

 

The multifaceted and multilayered approach makes it impossible to hack or penetrate for personal or selfish purposes. It is complex when viewed from this angle and someday our diaspora managed Data mining team will make their studies, research and findings public on the science behind the advocacy from this perspective.

 

It is worth studying further in our citadel of learning. Thus, here lies my personal problem. How do you teach a course worth studying in schools to mixed multitudes under oppression in the now and get them ready enough to save themselves from oppression?

 

The other issue is with some people who believe all advocacies must be approached from a riot point of view which we have already addressed in our communique to the public. This is not about any individual in the police but directly to the heart of our leaders. We are addressing a fundamental issue in our civilization and it will not go away until we make the needed change.https://medium.com/@segalink/why-we-are-not-so-crazy-about-burning-tyres-primitive-protests-segalink-9598e1880872?source=linkShare-6438587c06fe-1532700394

 

Funding is another critical issue. A people deliberately impoverished has been damaged to think beyond the now. Every mention of Money will make them either defensive or cynical. People will do the unthinkable for money thus are ready to criticize and accuse anyone of corruption on any matter that involves crowd funding. Even though we understand this is a form of projection ( a form of slander to others with personal issues One is battling within the self) still we have to avoid the distractions. We also couldn’t oblige prominent politicians offering to fund just because we need to ensure we are not ceding our integrity to their personal agenda for complete control. We have seen this happen to many advocacies that are no longer credible today in our social political clime.

 

So we remained self funded and leverage on the power of our message and sincerity of purpose. Suffice to say it has been very tough, but the result and support of Nigerians has been overwhelming. No money can buy that. This is one year after on GOD’s Grace and the support of incredible citizens. #DMPNChatWithSega

 

Has there been any form of threats?

Smiles… If I were to be counting the number of threats, I would have have lost count years back. I believe it comes with the territory of everything I have touched since I was 13 (the age of my Epiphany). We were threatened by people of power when the first advocacy debuted on Nigeria Immigration Service excommunicated 2000 #NIS2000 and we maintained our position strategically until the President rescinded and signed them back to their jobs. Though, the disgruntled canals sill managed to extract a few slots but 888 officers we don’t even know across Nigeria were saved and are better for it today (2years down the line).

 

Threats really don’t move me. The worst case scenario is that they kill the flesh and the Advocacy waxes stronger and becomes a religion, being an ideal virus that can’t be destroyed. It is getting stronger daily and Nigerians are becoming aware of their rights and duty as citizens in a Republic. We have raise the consciousness of the critical mass of transformational leaders with enlightened followers capable of independent thoughts, who are easy to govern, difficult to rule and impossible to enslave. So the #NewNigeria ideal is inevitable. We are not the same populace the political class are used to. So they all MUST be afraid of what stares them in the face. The Revolution began years back…I am not the problem. Threat has nothing on the idea. It is here to stay.

 

In your opinion, what really could be the problem? Are the Police grossly underpaid or they lack adequate training?

Here is the fundamental problem as it is with the Nigerian state and the mentality of the people themselves. As aptly illustrated by scholars of human behavior, When we’re the consumers of the change or disrupt, we insist on evidence-based treatment. We want doctors and software and teachers that do something that works. We want to get better, we want the computer to not crash, and we want to learn things effectively and quickly…

But often, as practitioners, (people in position to make change happen) we ignore the evidence in favor of what feels ‘right’, or because of our attachment to a narrative or what we’ve done before (I treated this under revisionary life ideology which has kept us voting the same set of people that has ruined us in the past). We stand on principal, not results.

So, before presenting the evidence, before assuming that people will change their work in response to the data, we need enrollment, commitment and common ground. We have to ask for a commitment. “If the evidence shows that there’s a better way to do this, are you open to changing?”

What we do often instead of confronting the question above is that we hang unto tradition and culture that has failed us once before. Being underpaid in a regimented system is not an excuse to become criminals if you are not criminally minded abnitio. The issue is with the recruitment of criminals and recidivists into the system and handing them guns without any form of rehabilitation or psychological evaluation. Some have taken the social construct of “it takes a thief to catch a thief” literally.

How much training do you want to give to a recidivists that will make him deploy such training for common good? It will be used for his personal cause. Besides the rationale for having these thugs institutionalized under the state under the transmogrified police Unit -SARS is to legally arm political thugs for election purposes. The same reason why the Clamor has fallen unto deaf ears.

This is the only advantage the ignorant and grossly unqualified IGP has working for him. His prowess in election rigging. But this time Nigerians are wiser and we will not go into an election year with a political hireling at the helm of affairs of the Police neither would we stomach a balkanized police structure beyond 2018. It is better we have a full fledged revolution and know for certain there is no government in a Nigeria than submit to oppression and tyranny by the worst of us.https://medium.com/@segalink/the-audacity-of-impunity-segalink-65caf5f111a7?source=linkShare-6438587c06fe-1532700422

 

If it is about better training and funding, why are they against holistic Reform of the Police structure? They know there is no room for their carefully curated ecology of the Organized Crime Syndicate as operational through the SARs unit and covered up by the regular police structure.

Several pictures have surfaced online of the improper dressing and acts of some SARs officers, can the problem also be that they don’t do due diligence while recruiting?

The current recruitment in the Police is an aberration. Nothing shows the institutional gaps like this single factor. Politicians, emirs and top political figures are given forms probably by Police Service Commission to nominate candidates for recruitment into the system and this has been welcomed by people taking ethnic and political advantage, using the process to hire securely their thugs and criminals loyal to them. It is an advantageous position because these known criminals in the society can now be fed by the state while they run their own side show that benefits their benefactors. You should see the misdemeanor of the current recruits. They are far worse than the corrupt thriving and kidnapping policemen we see in our sustains across the country. The Reform hopes to correct this anomaly and structure the recruitment and also revet those employed in the past years through background checks as done at the DSS.

https://medium.com/@segalink/are-there-no-good-police-officers-segalink-aa2feb91a423?source=linkShare-6438587c06fe-1532700463

Now that the legislatures are considering State Policing, do you think this is a good step in the right direction?

The legislature actually is removing what we call Constitutional Impediments for the now paving way to ensure that the Police Act is repealed and replaced. The bill has passed through second reading as mentioned once out here .http://punchng.com/police-reform-bill-goes-through-second-reading-in-the-senate/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

 

We can’t have a state police under the current arrangement even though it is the future of policing in Nigeria. It will require restructuring Nigerian into a proper federations units where every state controls its own resources. It would require devolution of powers which we are not ripe for at the state level yet. It has been recommended however severally that a regional approach will be more effective where each region can fend for itself and police its own region accountably under apolitical regional councils. The legislative gets this and will do the needful while we monitor because people often do what we inspect and not what we expect. The political will needed for change is here already and we are no longer leaving our collective destinies in the hands of politicians. We are fully involved and must apply ourselves by participating.

 

Some people have frowned at this cause and even gone as far as attacking your call for funding. Want to share perspectives based on that?

Those must be a constellation of people smarting from the hurts that they were unsuccessful at distracting us or derailing the cause. I received a message from the main legal counsel to the Cause last year that he got a report that some elements were out to raise funds on our behalf. He warned that if this happens we can as well kiss the whole Advocacy goodbye. This prompted us to start a GoFundMe account immediately ahead to the plot and we set the target figure at $2000. Of course this is pocket change to most of us and we contributed within a small circle of known donors after which we shut the matter down for good. We have since spend far more than their political benefactors have on propaganda if we can actually quantify the monetary value of genuine efforts invested in the cause for humanity sake.

We have never called for funding since 2017 based on all I have shared already. We know where the strain is coming from. Our various blocks in the chain are established to raise their own funding legally and their accounts are audited professionally for transparency. I personally have not been raising funds though welcome anyone who wishes to contribute and would direct as appropriate. I have not hidden the fact that I lack nothing. I don’t pretend. I have been wealthy since my epiphany and I’m rich in all ramification thankfully as empowered by Grace. We have been giving to the public since our 10years on Twitter.

Do you think by any chance the Government is taking it’s time  to respond/react to the #ENDSARS clamour because they want to do it at a time that they can  score political points towards the 2019 general elections?

Contrary to many over simplifications, there is no government really outside the harmonious work of the leadership and the led. We are in touch with the Judiciary on all our objectives as regards the operations of interpretation of the law, we are in sync with legislative on policy and bills and the executive are not as deaf as most people allude. Those who have the ears of the Government know what lies within and the Critical role timing plays in all this. We the people have made a decision and set a mandate. We will not go into an election year with the current police structure period. The time bomb ticks from there. So regardless of the agenda and when they hope to whip up a political pronouncement, we have our belief and are resolute in our means of ensuring that Nigeria is unshackled for our children’s sake.

Owing to current legislations, which is feasible, #ReformSARS or #EndSARS

Those advocating or helping to promote the Reformation of SARS are either ignorant, naive or mendacious. This is the same mindset that got us here. Many would have lived if not for the mindset of trial and error and sticking to the familiar. There was something in operation before SARS and there will be something different and better after the program is shut down. There is no reforming cancer. If you graft from a diseased body. The grafted element is also diseased. The most feasible is the End Of the SARS unit as constituted with a corresponding trigger of the holistic police reform that will take care of the ills. The legislation will not keep SARS from all consideration. The Judiciary as headed by the Chief Justice of the Federation wrote us in agreement with the immediate and full implementation of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act of 2015 throughout the federation. By this it will be criminal for the police system to operate as is. The harassment will become illegal, checking of phones will become a criminal act and lack of documentation at the police station, extortion, kidnapping by police, armed robbery by police, arresting of one in place of another, searching people without their lawyer present, forcing victims to write dictated statements etc will be anathema (Expunged) with weighty penalties. And also from the perspective of the new Bill, policing will take a different turn. There will be independents policing the police with the power to discipline and recommend punishment.

The government through the Police PRO and others have spoken bluntly about how it would not #EndSARS but #ReformSARS. Although it’s not reflected, what do you think about this?

That wasn’t the Government speaking but hirelings at different level of the narcissistic corrupt and abusive chain trying hard to maintain status quo. They are not our audience. They are not the ones to determine what stays or what is kept in our Republic. The power belongs to the people and every constituency have sent messages to their representatives.

This is what we have concluded on and have demanded and we are not haggling any further. Premium mum be placed in the life of every citizen and it begins by doing the needful on the most critical element in our civilization. Law and order is the pillar of any civilization and we can not allow miscreants within the system normalize and institutionalize anomaly of police impunity for our children to inherit.

 

The police Act has been unchallenged in 75 years and we are proud that our generation did not act like our founding fathers. This will be achieved and cancerous elements within the system will be extracted and squashed. Our children are dying before our eyes and all the unconscionable elements benefitting from bloodletting can say is that they want to keep the ruinous system running amok? This is ominous won’t you say?

 

The the Force PRO is a beneficiary of unmerited rapid promotion which ought to have taken him 9-12 years to attain if not more were the police structure made to genuinely run on meritocracy. The telephone recording of the incessant calls to plead for unmerited promotion by Jimoh Moshood went viral once and today he is doing all he can to show loyalty to the system that has rewarded him immensely at the detriment of other patriotic officers. You can see how Jimoh Moshood and Yomi Shogunle deploys mendacity across media space just to cover up the crimes of erring police officers thus maintaining status quo. We are happy they are currently being shamed openly and the shackles are breaking.

Do you think that the opinion of the people would prevail over government’s interest, as far as SARS is concerned?

Politicians are forever shackled by public opinion. Even Hitler, Stalin etc all required the people in a critical mass to justify their evil intentions and action. Right now two of the pillar of power if not all have collapsed in a Nigeria. The monopoly of violence have been weakened by militancy across Nigeria and the police have lost the trust of the people. They are actually endangered as we speak. If they don’t curtail their actions it will only take a week to end the entire idea of policing in Nigeria. 400,000 men against 190Million and counting?

 

The people’s beliefs, group mind and opinions are no longer controlled by traditional mainstream media. Majority can think for themselves and the awakening is increasing by the day. Because of the brigandage of this administration the fiscal and monetary policies have failed revealing their attempt at weaponizing poverty against the people just to control their will. This explains why majority of Nigerians are not paying taxes and have lost trust in the government. We are only standing in the gap to ensure we don’t slip into despondency and total anarchy.

 

Our politicians are mostly selfish. They can’t afford to lose all they have canned over the years. The Revolution is no respecter of persons. We the people have nothing to lose. We all know that when the push comes to shove, we can always start afresh but can those stealing for a living try that? How many of them can survive without foreign medical treatment? How many of them would be granted asylum? How many of them will survive watching all their properties razed down by irate youth seeking blood and revenge?

 

This is not far fetched a reality if Government decides to push the people behind the wall they are currently backing. We are just trying hard to appeal to the people who may have lost patience and trust in a better Nigeria. This is why we are sharing the vision of a #NewNigeria which actually lives inside all of us. This is why we are still the happiest people in the world despite the oppression and unfavorable clime as orchestrated by back leadership.

 

It is helpful to think about what keeps criminals under control in our society. Ask any sane police officer globally: it is not the police and the courts who keep criminals at bay. It is the society as a whole. It is the ordinary people who call the police when they hear a problem starting. It is the ordinary people who trust the police and cooperate with them to bring criminals to justice. That public trust is held by a thin line which only works when it is backed up by the vast majority of ordinary people.

 

This, by the way, is why police brutality is so damaging to law and order in our society. If ordinary people lose trust in the police, they wonʼt call and they wonʼt cooperate. If they fear that calling the police to solve crime could result in their neighborsʼ kids being shot dead, they wonʼt call. And they also wonʼt cooperate in more serious cases. Without community backup, the “thin line of trust” starts to feel very thin indeed. And criminals become bolder.

In your opinion, what is the major cause of the immense corruption and unprofessionalism found among members of the Nigerian Police Force?

I think I have answered the question above within my answers prior this. The bottom line here is the lack of National Integration. The Janice effect that suggests that people (consumers) will always be treated shabbily by workers in an organisation that treats the workers badly. We must admit that it sucks to be a policeman in a Nigeria. This is why under the police reform we are ensuring that any policeman picked randomly across Nigeria must be able to represent the country anywhere in the world. We should be able to measure progress by the appeal of our men in uniform to the public. It is a Service, not a Force. Feedback is crucial.

When you say #ReformPoliceNG, what are some of the specific reforms you hope to see in the Nigerian Police Force?

Major areas to focus is on recruitment, vetting and revetting, discipline, training, equipment, logistics, welfare, regimentation, career development, leadership, etc. The institution needs to focus on public service (demilitarization of the police and democratizing of same). There must minimum acceptable standard that must be maintained professionally. Reforms take time, and there is no other option.

 

It is time we put premium on the lives of all Nigerians. The world’s most valuable economic resource remains Humanity. We are all a bullet away from being a Hashtag. These are humble recommendations based on the audits in the here and now rebus sic stantibus (as it stands) and anything short of this will warrant a push for a bill to arm Nigerians based on some criteria and qualifications.

You can also see my thoughts on the #PoliceReformBill on its second reading feat as congruent with the direction of the legislative. https://twitter.com/segalink/status/1016673398838190081?s=21

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