It appears the fight against police brutality and harassment on young Nigerians who work in the technology space is gaining further momentum.
Following the recent outrage around yet another case of harassment and extortion of members of the Nigerian Police Force on a young software developer whose only crime was having a good laptop and a nice phone to go with it, Nigerian technology leaders have now launched the #StopRobbingUs campaign.
This is so as to put a stop to the many cases of police officers, especially members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), intimidating and extorting young persons who look like they clean up good, and especially when they are carrying a laptop and/or a nice phone.
SARS officers are known to stop and unlawfully arrest young Nigerians, brutalize, abuse, threaten, and force them to withdraw funds from their accounts before letting them go.
In the SARS manual — assuming they even read — any young Nigerian who owns a laptop, or a nice phone, or has a healthy bank balance is an internet fraudster. And part of their day job is to “claim their own share of the money by any means necessary.”
Many innocent Nigerians have fallen victim to this unlawful, barbaric practice and in recent times, young software developers have suffered untold physical and psychological damage. The latest being the Toni Astro incident from last Saturday.
But it looks like that was the last straw as tech leaders in Nigeria are now uniting officially to stop the menace, via the #StopRobbingUs campaign that is now hotting up.
With the support of Enough is Enough Nigeria [EiE], a network of individuals and organisations that promote good governance and public accountability in Nigeria, and Segun Awosanya, a respected Nigerian legal practitioner and advocate for justice, the #StopRobbingUs movement is now considering a Class Action Lawsuit on police brutality in Nigeria.
The #StopRobbingUs campaign is led by CcHUB’s ‘Bosun Tijani, iROKO’s Jason Njoku, Future.Africa’s Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, and Printivo’s Oluyomi Ojo, among others.
#StopRobbingUs is calling for the Federal Government of Nigeria to quit sitting on the fence and step in to quell the continued practice of police officers illegally arresting and extorting young people in Nigeria who work in the technology sector.
Just yesterday, Flutterwave — a leading fintech startup in Nigeria — launched a fundraising campaign has been to raise money for legal intervention and public awareness programme. Donations have been coming in from various parts of the globe.
Funds raised have already crossed NGN 11 Mn in less than 24 hours and the CEO of Flutterwave, Olungbenga “GB” Agboola, has supported the movement by waiving all charges on payments for the campaign.
“Our ask is simple. Stop arresting our colleagues. This is an ongoing concern for Nigeria’s tech community. A talent problem already exists in our sector, yet police, particularly SARS’ harassment, accentuates the talent drain in our industry,” ‘Bosun Tijani is quoted as saying in a press release.
“This is the central issue for jobs and youth empowerment in Nigeria and the continued, illegal attacks on our country’s young people should be treated as a national emergency. Beyond its pro-innovation rhetoric, the Nigerian government continues to turn a blind eye to the robbery and psychological intimidation of young tech talent.”
“We are social innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers and business leaders who work in Nigeria’s technology and innovation sector. Over the last few decades, we have collectively helped to build an innovative, highly respected tech industry that has elevated Nigeria on the global stage and demonstrated that young Nigerians can do great things.”
“The bedrock of our industry is Nigeria’s young and ambitious technology talent. They drive our operations, build our products, serve our customers and solve difficult problems for society every day.”
“Without this talent, our industry would not exist. Nigeria’s tech community is mobilizing, and fast. Collectively, we have remained silent for too long. As of now, our voice will be deafening, and we plan to see the #StopRobbingUs campaign through to the very end.”
The #StopRobbingUs campaign is gathering steam and at the moment, the torchbearers of the movement include leaders of the Nigerian tech ecosystem such as Bosun Tijani, Jason Njoku Oluyomi Ojo, Olumide “D.O” Olusanya, Adetunji Eleso, Odunayo Eweniyi, Adewale Yusuf, Tayo Oviosu, Jessica Hope, Chinedu Azodoh, Editi Effiong, Damilola Teidi-Ayoola, Femi Longe, Idris Ayodeji Bello, Jay Alabraba, Kola Aina, Shola Akinlade, Gbenga Agboola, Mark Essien, Sim Shagaya, Aanu Adeoye, Tomiwa Aladekomo, Benjamin Dada, Shola Adekoya, Oo Nwoye, Prosper Otemuyiwa, Nelson Olaonipekun, Dele Bakare, Ngozi Dozie, and Chijioke Dozie.
And that’s not even all of them. At the moment, all hands on deck to fight the SARS scourge and save the Nigerian tech ecosystem which was the highest contributor to the GDP of the nation in Q2 2019 and is believed to be worth as much as USD 2 Bn — one of the most valuable on the continent.
Featured Image Courtesy: ListsNG