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‘SARS was random, vicious, vilely extortionist’ – Read Chimamanda Adichie’s New York Times op-ed on #EndSARS

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has lent her voice to the ongoing #EndSARS protests which have been going on for the last few days in Nigeria. 

The respected author wrote an article titled, ‘Nigeria Is Murdering Its Citizens’ which was published by the New York Times on Wednesday, 21 October 2020.

In the article, she spoke about a lot of things including the necessity of the #EndSARS movement, the protests, and the recent killings at the Lekki Toll Gate.

“For years, the name SARS hung in the air here in Nigeria like a putrid fog. SARS, which stood for Special Anti-Robbery Squad, was supposed to be the elite Nigerian police unit dedicated to fighting crime, but it was really a moneymaking terror squad with no accountability. SARS was random, vicious, vilely extortionist. SARS officers would raid bars or stop buses on the road and arbitrarily arrest young men for such crimes as wearing their hair in dreadlocks, having tattoos, holding a nice phone or a laptop, driving a nice car. Then they would demand large amounts of money as “bail.”

“SARS officers once arrested my cousin at a beer parlor because he arrived driving a Mercedes. They accused him of being an armed robber, ignored the work ID cards he showed them, took him to a station where they threatened to photograph him next to a gun and claim he was a robber, unless he paid them a large sum of money. My cousin is one of the fortunate few who could pay an amount large enough for SARS, and who was released. He is not one of the many tortured, or the many disappeared, like Chijioke Iloanya.

“In 2012 Mr. Iloanya was 20 when SARS officers arrested him at a child dedication ceremony in Anambra State. He had committed no crime. His family tried to pay to have him released but were asked to bring more money than they had. So they sold their property to raise money and went back to the SARS office but Mr. Iloanya was no longer there. They have not seen him since. Photos of him on social media show a young man, still almost a child, with sensitive eyes and a future waiting for him. There are so many families like the Iloanyas who are caught between pain and hope, because their sons and brothers were arrested by SARS and they fear the worst, knowing the reputation of SARS, but still they dare to hope in the desperate way we humans do for those we love.”

Read an excerpt from the article below and read the full article on the New York Times website. 

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