Fashion is a beautiful thing. It is a way of expression and a way of life. Through fashion, people express themselves.
In the recent fight against SARS in Nigeria, stories have surfaced of how innocent Nigerians have been harassed by these SARS officers simply because of their fashion choices. For reasons ranging from their style of clothing to their hairstyle choices, many have faced unjust harassment from those meant to protect us – these people called SARS.
Below is a compilation of anonymous stories from users of the EndSars.com website and friends of Mauvelli.
Arrested For Dressing Nice as a Commercial Tricycle Rider
“I remember the day my immediate younger brother was arrested, handcuffed, and paraded like a criminal all day by these people that were meant to protect us. What was his offence? Dressing nicely as a commercial tricycle rider.
‘How can you be hustling as a commercial tricycle rider and be well dressed? Tell us exactly what you are doing apart from this,’ they asked him.
In a country where youths can’t find a job after graduating, they have to do something to make a living.
He was stripped of every cash he had on his person and in his house, after ransacking it. We were so scared at the end of the day when he was finally released and he called home to narrate the story to the family.
What if he was killed just for looking nice and no one knew what happened? They will tag him as one of the bad boys or robbers. Him being handcuffed around his vicinity as a young guy was shameful and it caused eyes to roll and tongues to wag, not knowing he was innocent. It has dented his reputation around his area.
I stand with #endsars #endpolicebrutality and the reformation of the entire system in Nigeria; from top to bottom. The system wouldn’t change if the same people remain because they will keep rotating the same things, nothing moving forward.”
Stopped for His Style of Haircut
“My brother works with a laundry shop, one day, he came out to buy fuel for the generator so that he could iron his clothes. On getting to the fuel station, he saw SARS guys parked there.
They halted him and asked him to approach them, which he did, only for them to ask, ‘Why you barb this kind of hair?’ Before my confused brother, who was still wondering what was wrong with his hair cut, could say jack, they landed him a hot slap and dragged him into the vehicle.
They drove him to Eleme junction here in Port Harcourt and started demanding for money, which he didn’t have. They gave him more slaps plus beating and threw him out of the vehicle. God willing, no car was coming, he would have been crushed!! My brother had to trek from there down to the house with all the pains from the beating and a swollen face from the slaps.”
Harassed for Looking Good
“On my way to Benin City for a friend’s introduction, some rough-looking guys who claimed to be Federal SARS officers stopped my colleagues and me to give them cash all because we were looking good. They equated our nice dressing to being Internet fraudsters, something we denied blatantly, causing a scene.
They threatened to kill us all because we are stood our ground.”
Beaten for Dreadlocks Hairstyle
“A day came when a friend and I were walking down the street and one SARS officer approached us and asked me, ‘Why you do dread?’ The next thing was, ‘Make I see your phone’, then they started hitting us with different items and took the phone along with them.
Abeg dressing no be personality oooooooooo.”
Insulted for Wearing Ripped Jeans
“I went for a drive with a friend of mine one day, and SARS stopped us and told me to step out of the car. They started calling me a prostitute and told me to kneel because I was wearing ripped jeans.
One of them threatened to shoot me. I begged for my life for more than an hour before my friend transferred money to them and they let me go. More than 5 SARS officers were on me.”
Intimidated for Wearing Shorts
“It was a Saturday afternoon, and after cleaning my place, I took a tricycle to go buy food about 3 minutes away from my house. SARS stopped my tricycle and one officer rushed and pointed his gun at me & started shouting, ‘where is this boy’s bag, where is his bag?’
I just put my hands in the air and said I had no bag. He told me to come down and empty my wallet on the road, I opened it and it was just #50 I had in it. He looked at me and said, ‘why are you wearing shorts by this time?’ (p.s it was 1 pm).
I was so confused because 1 wrong word and he could pull the trigger. I have never stammered in my life but I stammered heavily. He told me to remove my cap and when he saw I had an afro, another officer behind shouted ‘ah this one dey keep afro, who dey with scissors?’
He started searching for a pair of scissors, but just then they spotted a Benz coming and he shouted, ‘see meat just free this boy.’ #ENDSARS.
Accused of Being a Cultist for Wearing an all-Black Ensemble
“One day, being a fashion designer, I went to drop off some clothes with a client. At Abraham Adesanya roundabout in Lagos, SARS officers flagged my car down, got in, and asked for my phone.
Because I also deal with Bitcoins, the saw BTC on my phone and called me a cultist, not just for the Bitcoins, but also because I was wearing black on black. They then proceeded to intimidate me into writing a statement that was scripted by them.
They beat me up and extorted #135,000 from me.”
As Nigerian youths and the future of tomorrow, we need to fight against every form of injustice however way we can. A Twitter user, @4POCALYPSEDAVE, is using fashion to fight against SARS.
He came out with a pair of trousers that has statements like, “Open your phone now!”, “Lazy youth.”, “I go shoot you.”, and ” Caution: While wearing this in Nigeria, you are liable to be held, harassed by the police because they see fashion as a license to kill.” inscribed on them.
Mauvelli stands with the #EndSARS and #EndSWAT campaign. And we encourage you to fight against police brutality any way you can.