By Victor Akindele
The tech community has been one of the major victims of the harassments of the Nigeria Police Ant-Robbery unit, known as SARS, industry experts have said. This, they said, has led to the mass exodus of young techies and technology graduates from the country.
According to them until the government addresses the problem, the country would continue to lose young people with the potentials for developing the country with technology. The experts, who are CEO’s of tech companies in Nigeria have, therefore, joined their voices with the teeming Nigerian youths demanding for an end to Police brutality in the country.
Before the ongoing nationwide #EndSARS protest, the country’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami had recently appealed to the Federal Government to prevail on the security operatives to stop harassing young techies. According to the Minister said youths with digital skills are leaving the country due to what he described as negative government intervention. This, he said, occurred in the form of harassments of young persons with laptops by the Police. “We have many young creative innovators in Nigeria but many of them are leaving the country because they are being harassed and intimidated by the Police. Our law enforcement agencies need to understand that there is a difference between young innovators and ‘Yahoo Boys’.
The #EndSARS campaign, which has gone global, is demanding a total overhaul of the security unit as opposed to a reform recently announced by the government.
Adding his voice to the campaign, the Chief Executive Officer of Hotels.ng, Mark Essien, tweeted: “Ending SARS is important for the Nigerian tech industry. Your coders and other techies are disproportionately affected. It is in your businesses’ best interest to get SARS stopped. Staying neutral is the same as supporting what's happening right now.” He added that techies with laptops are being harassed and extorted on daily basis by the security operative.
According to the co-founder and CEO of Flutterwave, a pan-African payments solutions business, Olugbenga Agboola, the staff of the young tech company had also been victims of the SARS brutality. “So many of us are affected by this injustice at Flutterwave,” he tweeted.
To support the course of ending the menace, Agboola said the company had started internal fundraising to help victims of SARS and support protesters. “We've raised N2m so far, and the team decided to open it up to the public. We are 100 per cent against all forms of violence & brutality and we need to band together to put an end to this,” he said.