November 14, 2020
End SARS is a social movement against police brutality in Nigeria. A series of mass protests for the movement have been held both in the country and all across the world in nations such as Canada, Germany and the United States. Nigerians are currently still protesting in the fight for their rights.
SARS, an acronym for the Special Anti Robbery Squad, is a branch of the Nigeria Police Force. The members of this force do not wear Nigerian police uniforms or badges, but carry guns. SARS is known for conducting illegal searches, performing illegal arrests and detentions, extortion, bribery, sexual harassment, brutality and murder. Despite some positives from the early days of SARS, they have been terrorizing citizens and participating in illegal activity. There are several public records of SARS units committing these acts, as well as an online forum at endsars.com where people can post about their experiences with the group.
Many youths have taken action themselves to advocate for the disbandment of SARS. A hashtag, #EndSars, trended on many social media platforms and young people have organized protests throughout cities nationwide. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s police took this as an opportunity to terrorize more, tear gassing and shooting at people who fight against SARS. On October 20th of 2020, Nigerian soldiers opened fire at peaceful protestors located at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos State, Nigeria. Amnesty reported that there were at least 12 deaths due to this incident, but it is estimated that the number was much higher. The governor of Lagos and the Nigerian army initially denied that the shooting happened but later on admitted to the occurrence.
During the recent wave of backlash, SARS was supposedly disbanded in early October and the government made some public efforts to right some of the wrongs of police brutality, including reparations for those who have been affected by it. However, looking at lacklustre past responses to the actions of SARS and the government’s commitment to allowing the members of SARS to continue law enforcement work, signs show that the battle is not yet over.
The citizens of Nigeria’s calls for help are being silenced and are in desperate need of attention in order to end the violation of their human rights.