Hundreds of young Nigerians took to the streets of Lagos on the 8th of October to protest against the operatives of a unit of the Nigeria Police Force, Special Anti-Robbery Squad known as SARS. They are demanding that the unit be totally disbanded. Nigerians have shared numerous stories and videos on social media of SARS officials engaging in kidnapping, extortion, humiliation, theft, unlawful arrests and detentions, sexual harassments, torture and in extreme cases, extrajudicial killings and murder.
There have been allegations against SARS operatives that they harass and extort young Nigerians for wearing and using gadgets like an iPhone, luxury vehicles and Nike or Adidas sneakers. They profile and tag youths as dealing in illegal activities based on their appearance and their luxurious livelihood.
#EndSARS is an online movement that started on Twitter Nigeria to kick against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit of the Nigerian Police Force. The motive is to strike an awakening in the Nigerian government to put an end to police brutality and extortion that has lingered over the years in the nation. The campaign is believed to have started in 2017 using the hashtag #EndSARS to demand the disbandment of the SARS unit that is alleged to have been engaged in several human degrading and human rights violating activities. Though there have been actions to reform the unit in the past, in fact, SARS has been banned four times but these actions have been futile has their notorious activities continue.
However, on October 8th, Nigerians took the online campaign to the streets following the killing of a young man by the SARS operatives in Ugheli, Delta, south-south of Nigeria. Video evidence shared by Twitter users went viral showing how the SARS operatives drove off in the deceased’s vehicle after he was allegedly shot and killed. That has since stirred up anger and frustrations in Nigerians and triggered the youths to lead protests to express their displeasure over the situation. Hundreds of young Nigerian gathered at the government house in Ikeja, central Lagos on Thursday, holding banners reading “respect for human rights” and “say no to illegal stop & search”. They slept over till Friday 9th of October when the deputy governor later addressed the protesters. The protest has since spread to various cities across Nigeria including, Delta, Benin, Owerri, Abeokuta, Enugu, Osun, Ilorin, Ogbomosho, Abuja and other cities in Nigeria.
Reports have gathered that while youths marched to protest peacefully, police have harassed protesters and even shot live bullets in an attempt to disperse them. In the process, there have been casualties as some suffered injuries which led to the killing of a young boy named Jimoh Isiaq who died yesterday. This incident has further agitated Nigerians and fueled the outcry even more as they are more bent on pushing the #EndSARS cause till necessary action is taken to ultimately halt the operations of the SARS operatives.
The #EndSARS hit over 2.4 million tweets on Friday, making it a top global trend. Several celebrities across the world have joined in solidarity with Nigerians to lend their voices against police brutality.
KB showed his support to fight against injustice:
Many of my Nigerian friends have been hitting me up all day about #EndSARS. Im still Reading and learning more about the nature of the protest but I am glad to lend my support in the fight against injustice no matter where it’s found! Much love to my Nigerian fam
— KB (@KB_HGA) October 10, 2020
J. Crum lends his voice to support the #EndSARS movement:
— J. Crum | VAGABOND out now (@jcrummusic) October 10, 2020
Limoblaze also shared his opinion:
If #Endsars fails, they will go hard on the social media bill and make sure they silence y’all for real!
— God’s Favorite Baby (@Limoblaze) October 10, 2020
Yesterday, Nigerian singer and rapper Limoblaze, Angeloh and John Koch (Convener of The Youth Also Pray) with some others decided to take the approach of a Christian in the midst of the pain and hurt Nigerians are experiencing currently, by organizing a prayer walk to pray about the ongoing situation in the nation.
My dear Christian brothers & sisters, the weapons of our warfare have never been carnal, so yes we would march tomorrow, we would make declarations, men would hear our voices but most importantly heaven will hear us! Share this aggressively & join us tomorrow as we #Prayerwalk
The prayer walk is scheduled to hold today, Sunday, 11th of October, at Ikeja City Mall, Lagos Central at 3pm.
Nehemiah 4:9 says, “So we prayed to our God and stationed a guard because of them day and night.” Others have taken a cue at the prayer walk initiative that has been long overlooked, so today and onwards believers will gather to rebuild the walls (protest) and wield their swords in place of prayer for the glory of the nation and the freedom of its people.