TechInAfrica — Leaders in Nigeria’s tech community have initiated #StopRobbingUs, a campaign to end brutality where Nigerian police stop young people with laptops, smartphones, and the internet and suspected them as internet fraudsters. Nigerian police illegally arrest, attack, and even kidnap them, forcing them to pay a bribe in order to gain freedom, as reported by CcHUB.
Cooperating with Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE), a network of individuals and organizations promoting good governance and public accountability in Nigeria, the #StopRobbingUs movement is now examining a Class Action Lawsuit on this police illegal practice.
This campaign, which led by Bosun Tijani of CcHUB, Jason Njoku of IROKO, Iyin “E” Aboyeji of Future.Africa and Oluyomi Ojo of Printivo, amongst others, is calling for the Federal Government of Nigeria to interfere with the extended practice of illegal arresting and blackmailing young people in the technology industry.
The problem arose following the recent awful experience of Toni Astor, a software engineer based in Lagos. He posted on Twitter regarding his encounter with Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) officers in Ketu, Lagos. On Saturday, September 28, Astor was allegedly intimidated in public, arrested, beaten, and asked to pay $1,300 bribe by SARS.
Nigerian techies are often being targeted by SARS, considering the police’s reputation as a special unit who practice arbitrary arrests, torture, and extra-judicial killings, and this scam is a frequent occurrence in Lagos.
Astor’s tweet, which has been retweeted more than 11,000 times enraged the local tech industry and has taken action together regarding this harassment.
‘Bosun Tijani, the CEO of CcHUB said on an occasion, “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. 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.”
Jason Njoku, the CEO of IROKO also said in an online statement that they demand “a robust and concerted legal effort” to combat SARS’ indiscriminate attacks on Nigeria’s young technology workers. Collaborating with EiE and other key partners, the tech community is now making a movement to deliver this together with Segun Awosaya (@Segalink), government, and the police.
Crowdfunding has also been launched by Flutterware to raise funds for legal intervention and public awareness programs and has already secured donations in excess of N11,000,000 million (~$30,000) in less than 24 hours.
Last year alone, the country attracted $306 million in tech investment, according to a report by Partech. And according to the startup genome report, Nigeria is Africa’s most valuable tech ecosystem, with 400-700 startups worth $2 billion.
Source: Tech.Africa, Quartz Africa