Recently, protests have popped up in Nigeria regarding the treatment done by a branch of the country’s police force, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS for short. While the protests are not new, significant attention has not been brought forward until now. SARS is infamously known for its track record of police brutality and abusing their power against civilians, and Nigeria’s people are done with this abuse. It’s not even just Nigeria’s citizens who are protesting these atrocities, but people all over the world are protesting the abhorrent behavior against these people. However, unlike the protestors in other parts of the world, the people of Nigeria are being met with violence when taking a stand. This in itself shouldn’t have been too shocking since said violence was what kick-started the objection to the police force in the first place, but seeing what they have had and are currently having to endure is distressing. An instance that shed light onto this humanitarian crisis was on Saturday, October 3, when a video circulated the internet that depicted a SARS police officer shooting a young Nigerian man in front of a hotel and stealing his car afterwards . The video subsequently caused significant backlash to the Nigerian government and brought about the trending hashtag on social media, specifically Twitter: #ENDSARS.
That video is only one of many incidents where SARS officers have kidnapped, tortured, extorted, and killed citizens based on merely holding a phone that the officers want. Obviously, not all the reasons that the officers abuse their power is that simplistic, but it shows that it doesn’t take much for a SARS officer to shoot someone.
In response to the global outcry, the Nigeria Police Force announced on October 11 the disbandment of SARS. There was still opposition on the protestors’ side since the Police Force had a plan to redeploy the same SARS officers to other police divisions. The Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari stated how the government would plan to investigate occurrences like these and prosecute the offenders to the fullest extent of the law possible. Demonstrators didn’t have faith in that claim. They’ve said before how the government has previously declared to investigate these brutal events for years but still haven’t kept their word. Hopefully, the government can uphold these statements in the future, but as always, it’s up to the people to demand justice.
Photo credit: Rolling Stone