Most Nigerians on Twitter know that one person to tag when he or she, or a friend or relative is illegally arrested or extorted by members of the Nigerian Police Force. Many times, armed with video evidence or a detailed account of the incident that has taken place, the Twitter handle @Segalink is tagged. Segun Awosanya has been at the helm of affairs together with Gavel, an organisation that connects people to free legal aid and accelerates justice delivery, in clamouring for the end of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS). Awosanya and Gavel are also pushing for the reformation of the police.

In a country where justice─both legal and social is not guaranteed─social media has become that tool to amplify voices for justices. For many, if it was not for Segalink, the large amounts of money extorted by the Nigerian Police would have gone unreported, and illegal arrests would have continued. Pictures and videos have aided in providing useful evidence, although not all the time.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Other African countries are also benefitting from the power of social media. In Ghana, a video surfaced online of a Ghanaian policeman identified as Frederick Amanor, dragging a nursing mother for coming to the bank late to withdraw money. The viral video got the attention of Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, who immediately ordered that the erring policeman be sanctioned. In a further move, the assaulted woman received cash donation of over $8000, including clothes free accommodation and foodstuff. The bank in which the incident took place faced the wrath of Ghanaians who withdrew their money en masse.

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Justice on the continent is a fickle concept. For the rich, it is probably more assured than for the poor. In countries where those in charge of upholding law and order become the breakers of law and order, holding them accountable has been a huge task. The public distrust in the courts and in authority has left many vulnerable.

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Although the clamour for #EndSARS has gone on for months, there was no public acknowledgement or comment about the movement by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari. The quest for justice in court most times  takes a long time. Though justice delayed is not justice denied, the immediate placation to an unfairly treated individual is one of the things society desires to see. Social media has capitalised on the fact that the possibility of getting quicker justice is more, where bureaucracy is beaten.

Governments that fear the people are equally afraid of how their citizens use social media to tell their stories of oppression or/and injustice. In some instances like Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, shutting down the internet has become a tool to silence the voices of the oppressed who use the ubiquitous platforms and tools.