A protester in Lagos Nigeria with the protest sign and National flag standing on a police post.
#ENDSARS

Perhaps in the last few days, you’ve heard or even seen the #ENDSARS hashtag; maybe you have not.
The lives of 200 million humans are on the line! It’s time to pay attention.
We’re going all the way to West Africa, the heart and giant of Africa, Nigeria.
For years, thousands and millions of Nigerians have been victimized and brutalized by the “Special Anti- Robbery Squad – SARS.”

What is SARS?

SARS; The Special Anti-Robbery Squad was founded in 1992 by former police commissioner Simeon Danladi Midenda. The primary reason SARS was formed was when Col. Rindam, a Nigerian Army Colonel, was killed by police officers at a Lagos checkpoint. When the information reached the army, soldiers were dispatched into Lagos’ streets in search of any police officer. The Nigerian police withdrew from checkpoints, security areas, and other points of interest for criminals; some police officers were said to have resigned while others fled for their lives. Due to police absence for two weeks, the crime rate increased. SARS was formed with only 15 officers operating in the shadows without knowing the army while monitoring police radio chatter. Due to an already established three anti-robbery squad that was operational, Midenda needed to distinguish his team from the already existing groups. Midenda named his team Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Protesters in Lekki, Lagos.

SARS is one of the 14 units in the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, which was established to detain, investigate and prosecute people involved in crimes like armed robbery, kidnapping, and other forms of crimes.

If SARS fights crimes, why #ENDSARS?

The ENDSARS movement started as a hashtag on Twitter and has accumulated 28 million Tweets since the 9th of October. It is a call to end police oppression and brutality in Nigeria.
Nigerians have shared both stories and video evidence of how members of SARS engaged in kidnapping, murder, theft, rape, torture, unlawful arrests, high-handedness, humiliation, illegal detention, extrajudicial killings, and extortion.
I also have my own personal story to share how these “special” squad extorted my friends and me, and we’re STUDENTS!
This brutality has gone on for years, and the government has remained SILENT!
SARS, before our very own eyes, let the people who commit these crimes go scot-free because they can pay them. They brutalize innocent Nigerians who are trying so hard to earn a living in Nigeria’s harsh economy!

SARS isn’t fighting crimes; SARS IS THE CRIME!

SARS has been dissolved; why are you still protesting?
Firstly, this is nothing new. In 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019, the same proclamations and declarations were made, and nothing changed. These officials remained on the road, raping, beating, kidnapping, and stealing from young Nigerians.

Secondly, there is to be no reckoning according to the plans this administration has. All former SARS officials will be redeployed to other existing departments. That is a gross insult to the very many Nigerians who have died at the hands of these criminals. We demand a public inquiry, investigation, and hearing into every death and every act of brutality. If the police cannot hold itself to account, it does not deserve public trust and funding.

Thirdly, PEACEFUL Protesters across the country have been brutalized by the police; arrested, tear-gassed, sprayed with water cannons, beaten, and over 10 young Nigerians have lost their lives. Our protest has both been peaceful and respectful, and well within our constitutional rights.

Protesters in Ikeja, Lagos. Image by: Sophiyat Sadiq

Peaceful protesters were assaulted AFTER the Inspector General of Police claimed to have “dissolved” SARS.
It is clear to us that he is incapable and can’t control his officers.
We’re protesting for a complete reform supervised by an independent body and the resignation of the IGP.

The government is most likely to cut off the Nigerians; we need everyone everywhere speaking up for us. Ensuring this injustice done to us isn’t kept under wraps.
The silence of others empowers our oppressors.

Protesters in Lagos. Image Credit: Rachel Seidu

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere – Dr. Martin Luther King.

Sophiyat Sadiq

The author is a gender equality advocate and tech enthusiast from Nigeria.

 

The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of Awareness 360 and its members.