#EndSARS Campaign: Everything You Need To Know
Written by Di MadWriter
#EndSARS has been trending at number 1 worldwide for a few days now. It has literally taken over Twitter, Facebook, and has gotten a lot of people talking on Instagram as well. You’d wonder what would lead to millions of people to scream out in this manner, and for this long.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is a unit of the Nigerian Police Force. This unit was formed to combat crimes like robbery and kidnapping. I’d also like to mention that this unit consists of mostly ex-convicts. The idea was to have them protect the masses form robbers and kidnappers. A brilliant idea, but it ended up backfiring.
SARS went from being our protection to being the thing that we need protection from. Almost EVERY Nigerian has a story of an encounter with SARS, and trust me, they’re not good stories.
In an open letter to the president of Nigeria on the 9th of October, 2020, popular actor Genevieve Nnaji recounts how her niece was harassed by SARS just for having a laptop. She was 13, and she was slapped across the face for asking why her laptop was being seized without cause.
In the heat of the protest, another lady told of how they were attacked outside an exam registration center. These were fresh high school leavers applying to higher institutions. They were right outside the registration office when SARS came at them, hitting a boy with their van in the process. The others were shot with teargasses even as they ran in fear. They ended up catching about 40 of them and set a huge amount as bail for each of them.
These are just two out of hundreds of thousands of stories. Virtually, what they do is nab whoever they come across, slap them with unreasonable charges, beat them up, and collect every dime they have. Whoever tries to resist or exercise his/her right would get a bullet. They always brag. ‘Na we be SARS. We go kill you and nothing go happen.’
The #EndSARS campaign did not start yesterday. It has been there for at least three years now. The government has announced the reformation or dissolving of the SARS unit more than thrice in the last two years, but out on the streets, nothing changed.
The accumulation of anger and frustration has led to this outburst by Nigerians. This stands as the biggest campaign the country has launched in a very long time. The Inspector-General of Police put out a statement that SARS was being suspended with immediate effect. President of Nigeria also made a tweet on the 9th of October asking Nigerians to trust that he was doing something about the situation. He further mentioned that he was taking steps to reform SARS.
Though most Nigerians weren’t having it, others thought the idea was a good one. They felt there was no need for that many people to lose their jobs and be thrown back into the streets to cause more harm. They also felt that SARS could be put to good use, to serve the very purpose for which it was created.
The majority of Nigerians are totally against this move, and with good reasons. The SARS unit has been reformed more than twice in the last 3 years, and the problem keeps getting worse. Since reformation doesn’t seem to be working, ending SARS is the only way to end the problem. And why should we be worried about what they’d do if they lost their jobs? They are robbing and killing us already. And we can’t report them because they are the police. It couldn’t get any worse.
Also note that while all this was going on, and SARS was allegedly suspended, SARS operatives were still out on the streets doing the very thing that led to the outburst– harassing innocent people.
On how the #EndSARS protest has come so far…
Over 15 out of the 36 states in Nigeria had people actively protesting at the same time.
On the 10th of October, a young man by the name of Jimoh Isiaq was said to have been shot dead by the police during the protest in Ogbomosho. The police claim no shots were fired at the protesters. But videos of the boy lying dead with gunshot wounds are there to collaborate the testimonies of the witnesses. He has been buried and his family is grieving.
As of Sunday, the 11th of October, Nigerians in Canada, Toronto, Ghana, New York City, and some other countries had joined the protest.
The president of Nigeria lost over 100 thousand followers on twitter in less than 24 hours.
Most of the Nigerian media houses have underperformed in covering the story of this protest so far. We’ve had more honesty and proper coverage with the foreign news channels.
Nigerian celebrities took to the streets to protest, provided protesters with food and provisions, and spoke out against this injustice. A good number of public figures all across the world have also given their voices and support to Nigerians. This includes Cardi B, Trey Songz, Diddy, and a host of others.
The Nigerian government remained mute through most of it. However, they finally put out news on the 11th that SARS was being disbanded immediately.
Even after the news was put out, protesters were still being harassed and shot at. It seems we’ve not seen the end of this.
“The fight is against youth profiling, police brutality, and harassment. And until all that is achieved and we feel safe again, there’s no backing down.”–Nigerians.
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