EXCLUSIVE By Johnny Edward:
Two Nigerian Super eagles football stars have narrated their ordeal at the hands the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) who harassed them in the past while they (the players) were in the country for national assignments, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The pair who featured for football clubs in Italy and Russia respectively as at the time the incidents occurred told Completesportsngeria.com in separate interviews that they thought they had lost their lives after suffering cruel beatings in the hands of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Reacting to a tweet from the Police Force Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit (PCRRU), on Saturday that Nigerians should feel free to voice there complaints about the operations of SARS, the Super Eagles player based in Italy called for the anti-robbery squad to be more humane rather that molest young Nigerians for looking good and driving big cars.
The player based in Italy, who was part of the Super Eagles squad to the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil, recounted his ordeal from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos to his home on the Lagos mainland in March 2013.
“Not every Nigerian youth commits illegal acts,” the forward, who does not want his identity revealed, began.
“I arrived in Nigeria around 11:50pm from my base in Italy to honour a national team invitation in 2013. But when we got to Apple Junction just off the Oshodi-Mile 2 Expressway on the way to my house some minutes past midnight, we were stopped by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) for a routine search.
“I wasn’t worried initially until one of the (SARS) members asked me where I got the money to buy the expensive necklace I had on and I replied that I was a footballer and that I bought it from my base in Europe.
“I was asked to step out of the car before I could identify myself to the officer that I was a Nigerian footballer in town for abnational assignment. I was hit with a gun and he threatened to lock me up yelling ‘You be Ronaldo? We don’t know you.’
“I was allowed to go after two hours of delay and confirmation from Google that indeed I was a Nigerian international. Due to the pains I suffered, I told the coach in charge then what happened and he granted me a day extra to recover from the trauma.”
The other player, who was based in Russia as at the time of the incident in 2016, also recounted his ordeal when he was stopped around Ikeja Under Bridge and asked to present his tax ID.
“The fact that I smiled at the question earned me the beating of my life that I thought I was going to die,” the midfielder, a former Golden Eaglets star who was in the Super Eagles squad to the 2010 World Cup, told Completesportsnigeria.com on the condition of anonymity.
“My tyres were deflated with gun shots and I was treated like a criminal. I was returning to the natiinal team after a five-year absence, so I still had to report in camp despite the trauma.”
Thousands of young Nigerians, including a Completesportsnigeria.com intern and his friend earlier this year, are harassed, beaten up and battered by men of SARS sometimes for just driving a big car, wearing expensive-looking jewelry or carrying a big phone.
There is a current campaign on Twitter tagged #StopSARS with which hundreds of incidents are recounted.