A foremost Nigerian technology entrepreneur, Victor Asemota, has unveiled a mobile app ‘Waze’ where Nigerians can report cases of police brutality.
Asemota, the founder of SwiftaCorp, a pioneering African software and technology services group, unveiled the app on his Twitter page while narrating how he was humiliated and extorted by policemen in Lagos as far back as 1995.
The unveiling of the app is coming on the heels of the recent humiliation and extortion of a software developer Toni Astro by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Ketu, Lagos on Saturday.
In a series of tweets via his verified Twitter handle @asemota, the tech guru said “If you see a SARS incident or see them lurking around, report it on Waze in the interest of others. This can work until a better app specifically dedicated to reporting incidents can be built.”
“In 1995, some policemen stopped me at Ogunlana drive in Surulere. They wanted to search and see the contents of my bag. They didn’t have any warrant. They found my printed letterheads and demanded to see my certificate of incorporation or I go back with them to the station.
“They held me there sitting on the floor on a busy road for 3 hours until the shame made me give them all the money I had with me which was 500 Naira. A lot of money at that time. I decided to stop carrying a bag in Lagos. We didn’t have this problem at all in Benin City then.
“Now, the Police/SARS corruption epidemic is nationwide. It is probably now much worse in Benin and other major urban suburbs. They prey on those they believe have nobody to fight for them. Those who cannot talk and will continue to fear them. This is oppression.
“Even if young people all have ID cards, they will still find a reason to bully them. The excuse they have now is 419 but they know who the 419 kingpins are. They even praise and protect them. They have become government-sanctioned criminals funding institutional corruption.
“Something drastic has to happen to stop this. Maybe when tech people start doing countersurveillance and publicly revealing locations and names of SARS operatives they will be pushed to the wall. Right now they are going after individuals, a group fighting back will be lethal.
“First, I encourage EVERYONE to download and use the @waze app. If you see a SARS incident or see them lurking around, report it on Waze in the interest of others. This can work until a better app specifically dedicated to reporting incidents can be built.
“Young people especially in tech have to fight back as a group. If you ask me what the most important apps are that young people in Nigeria need today? It will be apps to help avoid police harassment or kidnapping and also anything to help relocate to places like Canada.
“While other countries are harnessing the power of youth, the Nigerian leaders are standing by idly while our young people are being harassed. The time for their reckoning is also coming. Maybe a political force to replace them all may be more effective than fighting SARS.
“The policemen who extorted me in 1995 are now the bosses of those killing people today. You can imagine what it will be like in another 24 years. If it doesn’t stop now, we might as well all leave Nigeria for them.”