Thousand of Nigerians are protesting for more than a week now. The growing chorus of ‘End SARS’ is up roaring Nigerian’s disenchantment with the country’s security forces. With days passing by, the peaceful protest is turning restless with violence and abuses by the police.
But what is leading young Nigerians to protest against their own security forces, furthermore making it one of the biggest protests Nigeria has seen?
What is the Nigerian’s EndSARS protest?
The nation-wide protest in Nigeria started off on 8 October 2020. The protest was triggered because of a tweet on 3 October which shared a video of a young man who was shot dead by officers of the SARS police unit. The incident took place in front of the hotel in Ughelli, Delta State.
Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is a security force department in Nigeria. The department has inculpated for abusing and unlawfully killing innocent Nigerians. On the wider scale, the protest is aiming to end the brutality of all the security forces in the country.
People have long been assailed by the security forces. Chibundu Onuzo, an author of Welcome of Lagos and a protestor says, “Almost everyone had a story about being assaulted by a Sars officer, of being extorted, sexually harassed, or wrongfully detained.”
Soon after the release of the video, an online protest started against years of police cruelty. With #EndSARS supported by prodigious people on Twitter, the protest was taken to streets on 8th October and as can be seen now is a high rage globally.
Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS
According to an Amnesty International report published this year; from January 2019 to May 2020, more than 82 Nigerians complained about being ill-treated, assault and extra-judicial execution by SARS.
The support of police hierarchy is the main reason behind the ruthless behaviour of SARS. Any police officer is not accountable for any crime performed by them; there is no punishment or penalty for them.
Nigeria has been dissenting SARS’s persecution for a very long time, but most of the times their voices were repressed by police and political leaders. In 2012, people held Occupy Nigeria. After a protest against SARS in 2017, the government assured to disband the organisation but later no such action was taken in the regard.
This time too the Nigerian government on 11 October have promised to disband the organisation SARS and alternately make a new organisation for sustaining law and order; Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT). But protestors have no faith on government’s word anymore. They say that the government is just changing the name; “It’s just like old wine in a new bottle” says a protestor.
Global support: boosting the Nigerian’s confidence
The protest that started online now has become global outrage against police cruelty. Police brutality in Nigeria has become a part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Protest for EndSARS is being conducted in the Uk, Germany, Canada etc.
Police brutality even during the protest has not stopped. In the protest, till now 10 people have lost their lives and many are injured, according to an Amnesty International report. But people all around the world are supporting the protest and raising funds for food and first-aid of the protestors.
Emergency medical teams are being arranged for the protestors. Mentally Aware, a mental health organisation is providing panic card; so that under high tension protestors can keep their mental health stable. Food supplies, consisting of a full meal, snacks and water are provided all over the country for a successful protest.
No stop until success
The outrage is planting pressure on the government for strict action. Unlike every time Nigerian’s are not in any mood to compensate on some dummy promises by the government.
The protestors are demanding for a complete reform of the security forces to one that takes action against crimes and criminals, not an unimpeachable citizen. Further, the protestors demand the government to form a committee that will be looking after the police and ensure the safety of the public from police brutality.
Even though the protest has gained support from some of the most known people around the globe, still there is no political support to the protestors from any part of the world. The people want support from the politician and countries, to deploy pressure on the government, to make the direly needed reforms in the country’s security system.
“Nigerian authorities can no longer evade the need for serious reform and accountability in the police system. They should go beyond words and send a signal that it is no longer business as usual by investigating the attacks on protesters and taking immediate steps to hold officers and others accountable” says Anietie Ewang, Nigerian researcher at Human Rights Watch
For long people have been tormented by the police and now they have decided, no more. The protest is an outrage of people that have developed over years of injustice. in conclusion, small support from you can set free the Nigerian’s living under fear for ages; the question is will you support them?