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Enugu Catholic Priests react to the #ENDSARS protest

By Ebere Orji and Anastasia Isife

The #ENDSARS protest, a reaction to the brutality of the Police force on youths has transcended the imagination of citizens and the government. Most people had first thought the protest would come to an end soon, but it is bewildered beyond expectation. Nigerians are not giving up as their demands have not been met. Rather, their list of demands is increased daily.

Lending their voices to the question, Beyond the ban on SARS, what more do you think Government should do in ending Police brutality in Nigeria? They had these to say:

 “The first thing to do is transforming the psychology of the security outfit. This means that you have to train the personnel thoroughly to respect the human right. They should have knowledge of the human right. In fact, it is like putting new wine in an old skin when you sack the SARS then call them back as SWAT. Let them go for test studies on human rights and relations, and the act of policing.” Rev. Fr. Evaristus Ofor

“I think the Government should give the Police a reorientation. Many of those that have gone into the police think that the Police Force is a dumping ground for touts- for those that are unenlightened. If you have nothing to do and no establishment, you are fit for the job. The parable of those that were met at the eleventh hour: nobody had employed them to work, so anything goes. The way most of them behave says a lot about the orientation and foundation they had before coming into the Police force. It is their actions and behaviors that have made people lose interest in them. The Police should be one wonderful work or assignment that any person should have hope going into. They need reorientation from beginning to end to know that they are there to serve. So I think, aside banning or ending SARS and Police brutality, we should look into the criteria of those joining the Force. The Police should have the best of citizens among them.” Rev. Fr. Christian Iruoha

“In the first place I feel the whole reaction of the protest as a sign of reawakening of consciousness among our people. People are beginning to get involved in their own affairs. You know that before now, many people do not show concern. People are not ready to risk. People are not ready to demonstrate. But the level of demonstration we are seeing is a clear indication that people have taken more than enough. And if I were to have my way, I wouldn’t subscribe to immediate banning of SARS, and then maybe trying to recruit or reintroduce another system that if care is not taken, may just be a change of nomenclature. What I believe should have been done is a grassroot kind of restructuring of the system. So many things are involved. You will discover that some of the reasons for these attitudes are because of poverty, hunger. Maybe paying a SARS man who stands under the sun for more than 3hours a salary that is not enough for him and his family can make him yield easily to temptation. In that case I think a holistic restructuring should be an option. It has to do with upgrading the kind of personnel to be employed into the Police Force before they are drafted into the SARS or whatever name it would be called. In upgrading the personnel, there must be some basic qualifications and enlightenment. That is, increasing their pay, making their work a little bit dignifying and comfortable. If it is dignifying, they wouldn’t easily yield to debase in culture and attitude. It will not be easy for them to begin to live a kind of debased life. So now that the deed is done, SARS have been banned or disbanded. My own message is that before a new system is re-introduced; let some underground job be done. If it is possible, do not use the existing members of the Police because of the sensitivity of the job. If you must use them let it be some higher officers who are enlightened. Or you recruit a different kind of people who have attained some degree of enlightenment and moral order or consciousness. It is this kind of people that will know the value of man, the value of life, and place themselves in other people’s shoes. Let there be enough provision to make them comfortable. If they are comfortable, I do not think they will be yielding to all those excesses and deviation that has brought them the bad name that led to the banning of the SARS group. Then members of the public should be enlightened too to know their basic rights so they can seek redress and justice. This is because some of these intimidations come when people do not know their right. But if people do not know their rights and keep silent during a first intimidation, a second, then it will continue. When your rights are infringed upon, after going through such torture, take the pains of seeking a legal redress and attend to the situation. Don’t just go and redraft any group”. Rev. Fr. Hillary Mgbodile

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“What today manifest in the form of SARS and police brutality is just a show of deep-seated frustration. It is police/SARS aspect of the so many acts of wickedness in the land. Sorry, I tend to go beyond the given. Permit me to say that it is wickedness everywhere. SARS is killing with arms, our politicians are killing our collective destiny on daily basis, lecturers are scuttling education in our schools via all kinds of malpractices, Our Nigeria tribunals are rubbing us on broad daylight, some pastors do unthinkable things to their flock. Tell me any sector that is spared of the raging wickedness. The on-going protest is indeed long overdue.  My take is that the protesters should use this opportunity to advocate an end to so many brutalities prevalent in our land least posterity shall not judge us fairly. The government we know cannot do anything meaningful so I don’t expect so much from them. But citizens should seize this opportunity to shake up the government to their responsibility.” Rev. Fr. Chukwudike Okwu L.

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“The ENDSARS protest going on now among our youths across the country is a wakeup call to our Government that our young people after all are not lazy. They’d been fully alert and aware of the incivility and injustices going on in this country but had been patiently waiting for the right quarters to do the right things. Now that the youths have finally stood up against the ills of this nation, beginning with a firm and resolute protest to end police brutality, it is more than important that the Government stand up to their primary responsibility of protecting the lives and legal properties of the citizens. Police brutality is a threat to the lives and properties of the citizens. This painful phenomenon can be put to a stop by not just disrobing SARS and vesting it with another sweet nomenclature SWAT but by giving a serious and proper training to these law enforcers. Proper civil training of the law enforcers will give them a sense of sacred and of service which will promote their respect for life and enhance the service they render for the Nigerian citizens.” Rev. Charles Ezeonu.

“Banning of SARS is indeed some gain on the part of the Nigerian people whose consistent agitation has made the government bend for the first time. However, that’s more like scratching the surface of the problem. Banning a unit of an institution like the Nigerian Police force that has been known overtime for the rot in its rank and file would not really change anything. A total overhaul of the country’s police with serious retraining and thorough psychological examination of officers and men of the force have become very necessary and even imperative. That is if we must retain a central police force like we’ve always had since the inception of our nationhood. But over and above all, establishing state police would go a very long way in stopping Police brutality and high handedness in the country since state Governors, as the chief security officers in their respective states would now have direct control over the affairs of the Police.” Rev. Fr. Benjamin Achi

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”Government should make the police and other law enforcement agencies comfortable to a reasonable extent. They need to be paid well. Then, their entire system should be rehabilitated.” Rev. Fr. Vitalis Nwankwo

 “There should be a total reformation in the police sector. Restructuring is needed there. Yes you have banned SARS but the same crops of people are still in the system. What we need is a total formatting of the police system by improving the quality of training they receive.” Rev. Fr. Aloysius Agu

Police brutality is not a peculiar problem with Nigeria. We ought not to forget so easily that there was a similar march in the United States a few months ago for the particular reason. More instances may fill pages of the newspaper. However, the same case, like corruption and other vices that find their way to Nigeria manifest in higher intensity. Beyond ban on Police SARS ought to be a pragmatic look at the fulcrum, here the Government itself. The Systematic Abuse of Responsive Service (Executive SARS) from the topmost level to the lowest should attract our attention beyond the Police SARS. The protesters are up with another idea; Salaries and Allowances of Reps and Senators (Legislators SARS) on the search light. All the deceits and recklessness of the executive and legislative arms of government that have dealt deadly blow on the judiciary maligning the vulnerable populace must be critically reviewed and necessarily overturned ‘today’. This is the proper way to end brutality in Nigeria. Nigerians should NEVER miss this opportunity!” Rev. Fr. Samuel Ogwudile

Nigerians are still expectant of a positive reaction from the Nigerian Government.

Eberechukwu Orji is a Psychologist, writer and a reporter with The Choice Flame Newspaper whose passion is to impact her world with the requisite knowledge needed to make every individual rise above their fears and struggles, and as well become successful in life.
Eberechukwu Orji is a Psychologist, writer and a reporter with The Choice Flame Newspaper whose passion is to impact her world with the requisite knowledge needed to make every individual rise above their fears and struggles, and as well become successful in life.

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