Nigeria recently celebrated its independence on October 1st. This beloved country is 61. Pretty young when you compare it to others. 61 years isn’t a really long time. Many Nigerians, both those in Nigeria and those like me in the diaspora celebrated the day and participated in festivities. It wasn’t long before the celebrations participants became protestors.
SARS (The Special Anti-Robbery Squad) is a unit of the Nigerian Police Force that was formed in 1992 to address the issue of increased armed robbery. It was a huge problem and police resources were not able to be allocated as they were working on the murder of a Army Colonel
SARS, from the beginning has abused its power and became the very thing they were created to stop. They unlawfully arrest, harass, kidnap, detain, murder, rape, extort, and steal money from its own people. Oh how I wish I could say this was a race issue. Unfortunately, these are Nigerians mistreating and abusing Nigerians.
Citizens, activists, and etc. have been pleading, demanding, and bargaining, for years to get change. Protests happened daily across the country and the pressure was on the Nigerian government to respond in a new way. For context, SARS was banned by the government in 2017, 2018, 2019, and now 2020. Although this may seem like a victory, it isn’t. You read that right, 4 times SARS has “ended” People gathered in mass at the Lekki Toll gate and various parts of the country to protest SARS and demand an end to police brutality.
Nigerian protestors have experienced all below and more!
- Tear Gas
- High Pressure Water Hoses
- Forceful Dispersal
- Verbal and Physical Threats
- Cutting of Electricity
- Dismantling Sleeping Tents
#EndSARS is a movement that started in 2017. The movement calls for the following
- Disbandment of SARS
- Reconstruction & Reorganization of police
- Ending Impunity for Abusive Officers
- Suspending Officers accused of Abuse without Pay
- Compensating Victims and Families of Victims
- Establishing an Investigation Committee for SARS
- Immediate Release of All Arrested Protestors
- Increase Police Salary
On October 20, 2020 the Nigerian Armed forces opened fire on peaceful protestors. Over a dozen were killed and many more were injured. Shortly after this incident the Nigerian government issued a curfew. Sadly the protests stopped and SARS is currently operating. As defeating as this may seem, progress has been made. Years ago no one would’ve even dreamed of a time like this. There is still a lot of work.
What can you do?
- Use your voice! Retweet, Repost, and Share! Use whatever platform you have to spread awareness
- Educate! When we know better we do better. Become familiar with SARS, what has happened, what is happening, and what is the desired outcome.
- Put your money where your mouth is! Donate to theses groups Flutterwave, Feminist Coalition, Gatefield Impact. Funds are being use to for supplies, funeral, legal aid, etc.
- Walk the Walk! Protests are happening all over the world literally, not just in Nigeria. Join one or offer any support/help you can.
Let Your End SARS Light Shine!