#EndSARS: What is happening in Nigeria?
Many Americans have sparked protests across the nation because of the outrage over police brutality and the systematic racism prevalent in society. Protests over police brutality are not only occurring in America, but across the globe as well, specifically in Nigeria. The demonstrations in Nigeria began when a video began to circulate of a Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) officer allegedly shooting a man and driving off.
SARS is a police unit that holds a reputation of being violent. This unit was formed in order to counter crimes like violent robberies, murder, and etc. Ironically, SARS commits these exact crimes against the people they are meant to protect.
The #EndSARS campaign is not something that just arose. It has been around since October 2017. The Nigerian government never fulfilled its promises to initiate change within this police unit.
After the video emerged on Oct. 4, 2020, protests sparked across the nation. The government promised to instigate change again, but no action was taken. There are split opinions about SARS. Some believe it is an effective police force against the terrorist group Boko Haram while others believe it should be completely abolished.
The Nigerian government has responded to the peaceful protests with extreme force. They have killed protestors, shot at them, blasted water cannons, used tear gas, and beat up unarmed protestors. Despite the evidence available, the police force denies ever having used overly forceful measures at protests.
According to Global Citizen, all of these incidents occured when the Inspector General of Police (IGP) announced that they were going to disband SARS. This provoked anger from the protestors, as they believe that the government does not have the intentions to make firm change. Protestors think that the police force holds too much power for this to happen.
Another issue that has come to light is how the officers involved have managed to avoid being held accountable for what has happened at the protests. According to protestors, none of these officers have been fired. This is because the judiciary is “uncompromised.”
Many countries have condemned the killings from the government but there is no international pressure on the government or the president of Nigeria to conduct reform.
Currently, the government is allowing the public to submit claims but that is the only action that the government has taken to address the Lekki Toll Gate violence. This massacre erupted after officers shot twice toward a crowd in Lagos.
Presently, the protests are not just against police brutality but also for the end to government’s actions. The physical protests are not as active but many of them continue online.