Techprenueurs Kick Against Illegal Arrest, Extortion

Tijani

Techprenueurs Kick Against Illegal Arrest, Extortion

By Olabisi Olaleye

Against the backdrop of illegal arrests and extortion of software engineers by security agencies especially Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS),Nigeria’s technology leaders introduced #StopRobbingUs, a campaign to stop this common practice,which may cause brain drain and dearth of software engineers if not quickly nipped at the bud.

According to them, it has become worrisome where Nigerian police stop young people with laptops and unlawfully arrest, attack or, in extreme circumstances, kidnap them, forcing them to withdraw funds from their bank accounts in order to regain their freedom. Working alongside Enough is Enough Nigeria [EiE], a network of individuals and organisations that promote good governance and public accountability in Nigeria, the #StopRobbingUs movement is now considering a Class Action Lawsuit on police brutality.

The campaign, which is led by ‘Bosun Tijani of CcHUB, Jason Njoku of IROKO, Iyin “E” Aboyeji of Future.Africa and Oluyomi Ojo of Printivo, amongst others, has called the Federal Government to intervene in this continued act practice.

A fundraiser has been launched by Flutterwave to raise money for a legal intervention and public awareness programme, which has already seen donations flooding in from across the globe.

The #StopRobbingUs campaign comes after Toni Astro, a Lagos-based software engineer, posted on Twitter a harrowing account of his encounter with Special Anti-Robbery Squad [SARS] officers in Ketu, Lagos. During his ordeal on Saturday 28th September, Astor was allegedly publicly intimidated, arrested, beaten and extorted, in order to secure his freedom. News of SARS officers (Nigeria Police and all tactical units) targeting software engineers is a frequent occurrence in Lagos and this is the latest in a string of attacks. Today’s news builds on the larger #EndSARS movement that has rocked Nigeria over the last year, which has used social media to appeal for an end to the frequent robberies of Nigerians, by security operatives who are supposed to protect them.

Bosun Tijani, CEO CcHUB says, “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”. Adding that software engineers  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 everyday. 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.”

Commenting also, Jason Njoku, CEO IROKO called for “A robust and concerted legal effort” to combat SARS’ indiscriminate attacks on Nigeria’s young technology workers”

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