Pastor Poju Oyamade, the Senior Pastor of the Covenant Christian Centre, Lagos, has narrated the ordeal of his wife in the hands of the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force(SARS).
According to the cleric and moderator of The Platform, an annual conference organised by the church to commemorate Nigeria’s independence on every October 1, his wife, Toyin was arrested and detained by SARS officers in 2019 for “flimsy” reasons.
He said while it took “personal recognition” and “social capital” to get Toyin released, some Nigerians who don’t have people of influence to come to their rescue have suffered dehumanising treatments in the hands of SARS officers.
This was made known by Poju Oyamade, in a Facebook post on Thursday, he urged the police authorities to strictly penalize SARS officers found guilty of harassing young Nigerians.
He wrote, “Let me start with my personal experience with the SARS group also. Sometime last year, I got a call from my wife that she had been arrested and taken to the police station.
“I was heading for a service somewhere when I had to rush to where she was. I found what the officer said quite flimsy and to date don’t understand it.
“Things were worked out easily because on appearing at the place there was personal recognition as people were greeting me ‘pastor welcome’.
“Thinking back, if I didn’t have that social capital, things would have been quite rough. So I do understand what a young person may have to face regularly from such encounters. It can be dehumanising and humiliating not to talk about stories of people who say they were dispossessed of money etc.
“The government may have in an unprecedented manner come out to verbally assent to the requests of the movement but what the government needs to realise is what they ask for now is action; definite steps taken to show commitment to their words.
“They have been here before they say, they have seen promises broken, they want actual reform. They ask that simple steps be taken to show it is different this time. Things like bringing to book the officers who allegedly shot at the peaceful protesters should have happened.
“At the heart of this is that this generation is tired of being led this way. Those in leadership must know this generation requires a more accountable system of leadership which are consistent with the ideals of a democratic government,” Oyemade added.