Oct 1, 2020. Nigerians around the world celebrated Independence Day. The day Nigeria gained her independence from the United Kingdom on 1 October 1960. Oct 3, 2020. Nigerians around the world unify to amplify the social movement in Nigeria that started on Twitter, calling for banning of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian Police Force.
What is SARS? The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was a branch of the Nigeria Police Force under the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID). The Squad came into being in 1992. The squad was created as a faceless police unit that performs undercover operations against crimes associated with armed robbery, car snatching, kidnapping and crimes associated with firearms. SARS has been alleged to be engaged in human right abuses, illegal stop and search, illegal arrest and detention, extrajudicial killings, sexual harassment of women and brutalizing many young Nigerians. The human rights abuses of SARS are seen in trending videos on social media.
In 2017, Segun Awosanya actively took up the #ENDSARS campaign on social media alongside other activists and it later culminated into advocacies and protests in a call to end the police brutality and scrap the notorious police unit.
On Saturday 3 October 2020, a video started trending on social media showing a SARS police officer shoot a young Nigerian in front of Wetland Hotel, Ughelli, Delta State. It was alleged that the police officers took away the young man's vehicle - a Lexus SUV. The trending video caused the resurgence and amplification of the #EndSARS movement - especially on Twitter.
The campaign resonated with young people all around the country as they are main the victims of the SARS abuse. Widespread protests over Nigeria's hated Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) are a sign that the country's massive young population is finding its voice and demanding reforms in Africa's most populous country, which has been characterised by poor governance since its independence 60 years ago.
As protests were continued in different parts of the world on 11 October 2020, Nigeria's inspector general of police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, announced that SARS was being dissolved.
But protests continued in Lagos, Abuja and Kwara on Monday, with young Nigerians saying they would continue to take to the streets until the entire police force was reformed. In reality, it goes beyond just the disbandment of SARS, because the wave of protests has given a platform to a section of the country's young population - who are dissatisfied with the consistently bad, inadequate and incompetent system of government they have been accustomed to their whole lives.
What have I benefited from this country since I was born?"
asked Victoria Pang, a 22-year-old graduate, who was at one of the protests in the capital, Abuja - and one of the many women who have been at the forefront of the demonstrations.
"Our parents say there was a time when things were good, but we have never experienced it," she said.
THE YOUTH ARE TAKING BACK THE POWER
These peaceful protests - organised by the youth, led by the youth and executed by the youth feel that this is the beginning of something special - a revolution you might say. More than 60% of Nigeria's population is less than 24 years old, according to UN population figures.
Although there is a high level of organisation, the #EndSARS movement and its supporters are adamant there is no one leader but rather, everyone who supports the movement is a leader.
They have been able to pull together everything from water, food and banners to arranging bail for those arrested. Money has been raised through crowdsourcing - some of the donations have come from abroad, mostly from Nigerian IT firms, whose staff are easy targets of profiling by security personnel.
Gone are the days where football, reality TV, social media etc. are the priority. Our eyes are open! We care about our future! We are our future!
What can you do?
You can support and stand together with our brothers and sisters in Nigeria against police violence, too:
Donate to the fight against police oppression and brutality
Share news about Nigeria and SARS on your social media platforms
Stay educated and up-to-date on the news and protests in Nigeria
Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/10/five-demands-from-endsars-protesters/