The Arab spring was made possible by the use of social media. Even though there are arguments on the pros and the cons of that Middle East political revolution, the ongoing EndSARS protests around cities of Nigeria need to be subjected to critical evolution so that people could make informed decisions.
Taking Enugu state as a case study, the EndSARS protests have gradually shifted to altercations between the state government and some musicians leading the protests.
Chinedum Okolie a.k.a Flavour and his professional colleague, Phyno, were quoted to have accused Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of non performance during the protest, an utterance that has not gone down well with the state government aides, who in return have accused the musicians of shifting from the focus of the EndSARS campaign to visible opposition against the state government. In the mist of the milieu, the musicians have alleged that the state government has openly declared war on them, adding that their lives have come under threat.
The part two of the Enugu EndSARS campaign is the calumny brought against a police officer, Mr. Ugochukwu Ozoude, who was a Corporal when he was attached to the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit in Enugu, many years ago, between 2009 and 2011. It is on record that Ozoude or Ugo SARS, as he fondly referred to, was never the head of SARS in Enugu or elsewhere but one of the rank and files of the squad.
At that time, the late Jude Agbanajelu was the head of SARS in Enugu and Ugo was just one of the brave officers that effected sanity in crime combat in Enugu state. The Jude-led SARS was so popular in the state that the fear of Jude and his squad was the beginning of repentance for every criminal. In appreciation of their service, the then Governor Sullivan Chime appreciated the officers with lifetime rewards, particularly the leader of the squad.
It is possible that what made Ugo popular among the squad was his brevity, his diligence, relationships and his non discriminatory social behavior. All over the town he is known as ‘Ugosars’, one who fraternizes with his age brackets, the upper and middle class. His knowledge of policing earned him a foreign mission as United Nations, UN, attaché for peace keeping after which the NPF sent him for short service course and from where he rose to a Superintendent of Police.
While not exonerating Ugo of all the social media charges against him, suffice is to say that one who does such security jobs must have stepped on toes, especially the possible offenders who may have tried to suppress their being brought to opprobrium. I agree that it is possible for such an officer to exercise abuse of power in the process, but there is no way a man would be charged with the responsibility of taming crimes and he would not step of toes. Added to this is that as at moment there was no prima faci case instituted against him either in any court or any other tribunal for human right abuse.
An example that suffices is the case of one businessman who is among those leading the campaign of calumny against UgoSARS. According to Ugo, this man specialized in buying stolen vehicles and was charged to court when he was arrested. Now, at the wake of these protests, the business man is claiming he knows the names of all those that Ugo allegedly killed, extra-judiciously. The onus is now on this business man to name those he claims Ugo killed and their addresses. It is also incumbent on this man to tell the public the reason why Ugo spared his life and was presented before a court of law and was remanded in prison instead of his summary execution that he claims Ugo thrives in.
Enugu based legal practitioner, Obiora Anichukwu Esq. has a contrary view from the ones now calling for the head of Ugochukwu Ozoude. According to Anichukwu, the young Ozoude is being maligned undeservedly. He is of the opinion that while his traducers could have their say, his likes who had encountered Ugo and have better perspective of his strength and character should also make their views known for the sake of posterity.
Barrister Anichukwu said: “I met Ugochukwu as a young lawyer; I was barely a year in the bar, which was in 2010 when I was working with my then principal at Zik Avenue who sent me to SARS over one of our clients that was arrested. I got there and everything was strange and I was thinking how do I go about this? Luckily for me my eyes caught a young man like me, it’s not just that he was young because there were many young men there but he was neatly dressed and I approached him. He introduced himself as Ugochukwu Ozoude. I asked him if he was the police lawyer because of his neat dress and he laughed. That was how we became friends and he assisted me and that first experience changed my mind on how SARS operates.
“During that 2009 to 2012, we experienced a lease of life in Enugu. Earlier than then, Enugu was a place not to be because the violent crimes were too many that nobody was safe. I think that was the reason that police unit was set up and at a point the name of the young man started ringing bell, Ugosars! Ugosars!! because of the dedication, the professionalism that he puts in curbing most of these violent crimes against his young life. Then later we heard about the roles he played during the kidnaps of Albertina, wife of Ifesinachi motors and an in-law to a hotelier in Enugu among others and they were freed. He is one fearless young man who practices his job professionally. Later he was transferred to Akwa Ibom and later on again he told me he went for special UN programme and from there he went to cadet training and I was impressed.
“I told him that I wasn’t surprised, that there is no way the Nigeria Police will see such a brilliant, brave, descent police officer that it will not make full use of him so that people will see that the job is not meant for thugs alone. He told me he refurbished his office himself because the office looks quite good and that is Ugochukwu Ozoude for you. So when I started reading all these negative stories, I was baffled. Yes, I am a youth and I support this EndSARS campaign because one of my clients suffered it and died in the custody at about 2017 and I thought the world would get loose. But when these things were happening, the likes of Ugo were not there again.
“So when I see people writing because social media is there I keep quiet and these people succeed in killing the morale of our descent officers. We need to put the records straight. Any person attacking Ugo’s performance in the police, either in the short two years he was there as a Corporal, it’s either the person is a criminal or the person is just envious of that young man. Ugo is a descent police officer, he is not a thug; he is a social person. If he is a thug he won’t be moving around. If you invite him for any social function he will be there. He moves around, he is youth-friendly because he is also a youth. If he is that dangerous he won’t be mixing up. So I just want to lend my voice to say that this campaign being perpetrated by few disgruntled criminals or envious persons against Ugochukwu in the name of EndSARS protest is out rightly malicious and we cannot allow it to stand.”
For Mr. Emeka James Ifedi, who resides in GRA Enugu, the EndSARS attack directed against Supol Ugo Ozoude is a case of deliberate image denting.
Ifedi said: “Any Enugu indigene will know that what Enugu looked like years back in terms of insecurity. Many trained police officers had to stake their lives to see a better crime free Enugu State and one of them is Supol Ugo Ozoude, an indigene Ezeagu LGA of Enugu State, a well trained police officer who has served this nation with all his heart.
“The recent attacks and image denting mission towards Ugo Ozoude is condemnable and unacceptable, he was only discharging his duty as a police man attached to SARS Enugu State command, and we all know that SARS has no business with civil matters but only criminal and robbery matters. Today Nigerian youths are protesting for the end of SARS but that does not mean that there are no more well trained and experienced police men attached to SARS which Supol Ugo Ozoude is one of them.
“Let’s stop this image denting of this young man who has only dedicated his time to serve this nation. The question is, why are they bringing up this fallacious claim against him now? Let’s learn to focus on the issue at hand and not to attack a man who has done nothing but serving his nation, whether they are paid or organized to carry out this unjust mission, let them know that we all are Enugu people and not outsiders.”