By The Global Diplomat Writer
Image Credit: BCC
Since Nigeria gained independence, after a rigorous period of colonialism under Britain, never-ending struggles with corruption have plagued my country. Even after 60 years, the promise of true democracy has still not been fulfilled. The corruption has even spread to police units, the most corrupt of them all being SARS.
By now, you have most likely heard about SARS on social media. If you haven’t yet: SARS was founded in 1992 to combat cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes. However, SARS has become an oppressive force, abusing the human rights of Nigerians; especially the youth. Since 2017, Nigerians have been protesting against police brutality and every year, there are lies about it being banned while in truth, there are still so many youth suffering at their hands. This year, Nigerians said enough is enough and called for the unit to be terminated. Nothing less.
The #ENDSARS movement is one of the growing calls worldwide for police reform. Similar calls have been made, for instance, in the US by the #BlackLivesMatter movement following the murders of Black people by the police.
In early October, the video of a SARS officer shooting a young man in Delta State went viral, prompting the hashtag #ENDSARS to trend online. Since October 8th protests began in Lagos State and soon spread to other states all over Nigeria. By the 14th, protests began to take place in other countries, including Belgium, Canada, the UK and the U.S. In response, the Nigerian government banned protests in some states and curfew was placed. I believe this is because Nigerian people standing up for themselves was a long time coming. Throughout all of the protests, few to none of the politicians who are currently in Nigerian office publicly condemned the actions of SARS. In fact, some of them even encouraged it, thereby showing their true colors to the citizens of this country. However, protests continued and candlelight memorials were held for the victims of police brutality.
On October 20th 2020, soldiers opened fire on peaceful protesters in the Alausa and Lekki areas of Lagos State. The government denies responsibility for the massacre despite the Nigerian military having a history of killing unarmed citizens.
In a recent “recorded and edited” public address, the president only acknowledged the police for their “good work” while ignoring the victims, as well as subtly threatening the citizens for protesting and the international community for supporting them. Nigerians have continuously expressed how tired they are of suffering. Therefore, we have plans for this government to take accountability, as well as to vote for a better government in 2023, when elections are next held.
On a last note, I would like to commend Nigeria’s youth, home and abroad as well as this movement’s allies for the immense work they have done to bring attention to this issue through online awareness, protests and donations for legal and medical aid, as well as any other necessities needed during the protests. You are amazing, brave and most importantly, you are a part of the change that this country hopes to see one day.
-From a fellow citizen.