#EndSARS? What is happening in Nigeria?

Mohamed Eltayeb 

Unfortunately, police brutality has been the theme for this year, but not only for countries like the US. In Nigeria, the public is fighting for their lives against their police and demanding for the abolition of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and complete police reform. 

Over the last several days, Nigerians have been protesting after a video emerged of SARS officers dragging and killing a man from a hotel in the city of Lagos. The hashtag #EndSARS quickly took over social media platforms globally, filled with horrifying police brutality stories from around the country.

Amnesty International reports that impunity must end as much of Nigeria’s police force has committed petrifying crimes against the public. The report documents extortion, torture, and ill-treatment by SARS. “Detainees in SARS custody have been subjected to a variety of methods of torture including hanging, mock execution, beating, punching and kicking, burning with cigarettes, waterboarding, near-asphyxiation with plastic bags, forcing detainees to assume stressful bodily positions and sexual violence.” The report concludes that at least 82 cases of crimes have occurred from January 2017 to May 2020

Not only has SARS committed crimes of humanity, but crimes that are illegal by their own government. Anti-torture legislation in Nigeria passed in 2017, yet not one officer has been charged despite undeniable eyewitness and video evidence. What makes the SARS officers dangerous is that their behavior is identical to the acts of criminals. Often dressed in plainclothes, SARS officers antagonize young individuals who “stand out” nice cars and nice clothes can attract the officers’ attention. But why do SARS officers target young Nigerians with wealth? Well, the reason is because of young people’s association with scamming in the country. The term “Yahoo- Boys,” a slang term for internet scammers, is the justification many SARS officers use to set up discriminatory stop and searches. Tattoos, piercings, dreadlocks or any appearance that is considered “unusual” are also the targets of SARS’s officers.

Dirty cops

Nigeria’s current President Muhammadu Buhari, a former dictator, announced on October 12th the SARS’ disbanding, yet the public is unconvinced as SARS officers will be redeployed into the Nigerian police force. Another reason the public remains unconvinced is Nigeria’s police force has a long history of brutality and has been ranked the worst globally, just below Congo, Kenya, and Uganda. In fact, corruption and despicable training are embedded within the police force since this won’t be the first time that Nigeria’s government attempts to reform the police force. Back in 2012, Former Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan fired the police chief since reports of Boko Haram infiltrating the police force were confirmed.

Fight for your rights

Artists like Burna Boy, Wizkid, and Davido have used their platforms to raise awareness of their nation’s injustices. On Instagram, Burna Boy posted how he plans to use funds to support protesters that are harmed by SARS throughout the protest. #EndSARS became a global trend due to the endorsements of Nigeria’s afrobeat’s stars. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, Ice Cube and Mesut Ozil are among the many stars that have spoken out against the police brutality in Nigeria.

What you can do to help

Speculations that the Nigerian government might shut down the internet or cease social media platforms in the country have been circulating. This is a common tool many authoritarian governments use to stop protests from gathering. In the past, Sudan’s government under former dictator Omar al-Bashir would use this tactic; Chad’s government has also notoriously been known for its censorship of digital rights. Here’s what you can do to show your support to raise awareness for those who may not know what is currently going on in Nigeria.

  • Sharing related posts on social media ( #SARSMUSTEND, #EndSars, #EndPoliceBrualityinNigeria)
  • Donating towards helping protesters and victims, a verified link is attached here.

To contact Mohamed Eltayeb. you can reach out to him via e-mail (therealeltayeb@gmail.com) or Twitter!

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