#EndSARS Protests in Nigeria
Over the last few weeks, we have seen protests taking place across Lagos and other states across Nigeria in West Africa. The nationwide demonstrations against police brutality have been actively spearheaded by young Nigerian women —first against the elite Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and then the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was a unit formed under the Nigerian police force in 1992 to tackle crimes associated with armed robbery and kidnappings across the country. However, Nigerians have experienced these so-called protectors to be more predatory than anything else. For over 20 years, SARS officers have been responsible for innumerable extrajudicial killings, cases of human rights abuse, sexual harassment of women, and the brutalisation of young Nigerians under the basis of ‘criminal profiling’.
The protests originally began as a social media campaign using the #EndSARS before protests took to the streets in Lagos State. By October 9th, #EndSARS was already trending globally across social media. At the forefront of this revolutionary youth-led movement against police brutality in Nigeria was the Feminist Coalition – a group of young Nigerian feminists collectively mobilising all facets of the global #EndSARS protests. By the 4th day of the protest, the President Muhammadu Buhari announced the disbandment of SARS, promising to address the ‘genuine concerns and agitations over the excessive use of force and in some cases extrajudicial killings’. He offered assurances that ‘all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts’ will be ‘brought to justice’. However, Nigerians had become accustomed to these false promises and on this occasion dismissed these promises and continued their protest. The peaceful demonstrations were disrupted on October 20th, when the Nigerian Army opened fire towards peaceful protestors who were holding the Nigerian flag whilst singing the national anthem in Lekki, which led to many being injured and multiple deaths.
To manage the demonstrations, an extended 24 hour curfew was imposed on the city and surrounding regions. However, this did not deter the protestors - and they further gained global support from Nigerians in the diaspora across the West who also organised protests to show and stand in solidarity with Nigeria.
The international community have expressed their dissatisfaction for the way in which Nigerians have been mishandled. Using #EndSARS, the international community has urged the Nigerian government to end the violent crackdown on the protestors. The advice given to officials advocates for protesters to be given what rightfully belongs to them, justice.
Violent crackdown on protesters has been seen in Nigeria for many years. The military have been on the forefront of shooting protesters instead of using other means to mediate their concern. This is also something that the youth have raised concern over. Since videos of gunshots emerged on social media platforms, Nigerians have used the hashtag #EndSARS to express their feelings and urged the international community to stand with them during this period. Many of the demonstrators have vowed to fight until all their needs have been implemented. With the #EndSARS, several questions have been raised including why CCTV cameras and lights in the streets were switched off - as this is believed to be one of the greatest contributors to the chaos experienced at Lekki tollgate.
How We Can Help #EndSARS?
The first step is to get the word out. This protest is being fought not only on the streets of Nigeria, but globally through social media. Consider sharing this or other articles that explain what the #EndSARS protests are about. Make liberal use of the hashtag #EndSARS to make others in your social networks aware. This costs us nothing and draws needed pressure and attention on the Nigerian government to stop abusing human rights.
We stand with all of our Nigerian brothers and sisters to end poor governance.
It is time to #EndSARS.