#EndSARS Protests in Nigeria

Adamu Usman Garko

Adamu Usman Garko

October 2020 | Nigeria

#EndSARS Protests in Nigeria

Nigeria is a large country of 35 states, 350+ ethnic groups, and thousands of natural landmarks. It is also projected to the world as Africa's largest economy, home of Nollywood and Africa's best musical industry. Not even to talk of the country's estimated 206,139,589 people population as of 2020, according to United Nations Data. But behind the beauties crowning the country as the Giant of Africa, Police Brutality has continued to deprive the country from tapping the fortunes of her blessings–by disrupting the peace of the citizens,  which appears, Nigeria might soon be the weakest country in Africa unless drastic actions are put in place to protect the citizens from the known brutality of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian Police Force. 

Before its disbandment on 11th October, 2020, SARS used to be a Nigerian Police Force unit created in late 1992 to handle with crimes related with robbery, motor vehicle theft, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and firearms. However, while its creation was meant to eradicate crimes and to protect innocent citizens of Nigeria, SARS had been controversial for its links to extrajudicial killings, extortion, torture, framing, blackmail, kidnapping, illegal organ trade, armed robbery, home invasions, rape of both men and women, child arrests, the invasion of privacy and the destruction of water bodies through the illegal disposal of human remains. 

Bothered by the utter outrage of SARS's brutality, Nigerians took to Social Media to express their dismays over the government's lackadaisical attitude towards bringing an end to SARS, which had been not in the favor of the country's peaceful atmosphere. It started with "End Special Anti-Robbery Squad (End SARS) or #EndSARS" as a hashtag and social movement in Nigeria on Twitter, calling for banning of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian Police Force, in order to bring an end to their oppression and brutality.

The protests emanated from social media campaign using the hashtag #EndSARS to demand for the Nigerian Government to end the deployment of SARS. Within a weekend, the #EndSARS hashtag had up to 28 million tweets, which in fact, garnered the attention of the international community, with even Twitter Founder supporting the movement–an end to injustice. Unlike other movements, EndSARS protest is a unique one, because it's a call for injustice which all of us have been victims to, directly or indirectly. In fact, Nigerians have shared real and lucid stories and video evidences of how members of SARS engaged in kidnapping, murder, theft, rape, torture, unlawful arrests, humiliation, unlawful detention, extrajudicial killings, and extortion in Nigeria. 

The movement "EndSARS" transitioned from social media using the #EndSARS hashtag to a number of organized peaceful protests in some parts of the country such as: Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, Osun, Benin, Delta, Ilorin, Ogbomosho, Owerri, Jos, Kaduna and many other Nigerian cities and states, promising to continue unless the country fully listen to them, and move from empty promises to accountable and transparent actions to halt the oppression and brutality of SARS, by banning it totally.

It is without doubt that the culmination of the peaceful demonstrations with citizens demanding for the protection of their lives is one of the key areas made clear by the sociology of human social relationships and institutions. According to Zygmunt Bauman, the Polish-British sociologist and philosopher, the task for sociology is to come to the help of the individual. We have to be in service of freedom. It is something we have lost sight of. When people bring to limelight their grievances with SARS, what had been at odds with their peace, it's their freedom that should be accorded the listening ear to let serene the institution with which the society is made of, and their social interactions amplified for the betterment and comfort of the society. A society is made of, and recognized through, the people.

Therefore, the Government needs to act and respect the freedom of its citizens. When SARS had been upheaved, it was meant to protect the people and not destroy their peaceful coexistence. However since it's no longer constructively acting on the principles upon which it was instituted, it's clear that the best solution is to end it. Ending SARS in Nigeria doesn't not mean allowing crimes to thrive, it only means halting a menace that used to be sane and is now insane and violent. An alternative with that is well-organized and well-coordinated can thereafter be instituted to replace SARS and what they're constitutionally meant to offer, unlike what they have turned to. For now, the government should listen to the citizens, and end SARS, totally.


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