The Special Anti-Robbery Squad, also known as SARS, is a Special branch of the Nigerian Police Force created in 1992 as a result of rampant crime and robberies throughout the country. In its infancy, SARS was credited with effectively decreasing crime levels.
The police unit has become controversial in recent years as SARS officers have turned their duty to protect and serve into an opportunity to abuse power. In June 2020, Human rights group Amnesty International released a report suggesting SARS officers continued to commit human rights violations, including at least 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment, and extrajudicial execution between January 2017 and May 2020.
Based on the results of the report, Amnesty believes, “it reveals a pattern of abuse of power by SARS officers and the consistent failure by the Nigerian authorities to bring perpetrators to justice. It highlights the deficiencies in Nigerian police accountability that contribute to and exacerbate these violations.”
Young people between the ages of 17 and 30 are most at risk of arrest, torture, or extortion by SARS. They are often accused of armed robbery or internet fraud.
In early October, Nigerians began protesting SARS. Protests were organized under the hashtag #EndSARS and spread across the country. The protests started after a video showed a SARS officer allegedly shooting a man and driving off. The SARS protest, led by Nigerien youth, with the average age of the protestor being 18 years old, has turned violent and deadly.
On October 20, 2020, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu issued a 24-hour curfew to prevent citizens from exercising their right to protest against police brutality. Sanwo-Olud ordered Army officials to execute this order.
Uniformed forces were deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate area, an upscale suburb of Lagos, where the biggest ongoing protests have been held since October 7. Beginning at around 7 pm, officers began shooting into crowds resulting in several injured and many dead. According to several news sources, including CNN and NYTimes, the exact number of casualties has not been confirmed.
The demands of many Nigerian people include the impeachment of several Nigerian leaders including, President Muhammadu Buhari & Co, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Bola Tinubi, and other leaders who have been complacent during this time of the genocide in their country. Nigerian youth are also demanding Institutional Reforms, Educational Reforms, Cost of Governance, Health Reforms, and Youth Affairs Reforms.
Police brutality is a global issue that we can help solve from wherever we are. #BlackLivesMatterEverywhere.
Stay posted on what's going on in Nigeria and use your social media to share about #EndSARS to help others stay informed. (While images and videos might be graphic, offer a trigger warning before sharing.)
Donations are being accepted by Feminist Coalition via Bitcoin, this group was started by young Nigerian feminists "with a mission to champion equality for women in Nigerian society." The Feminist Coalition has been supporting protests through donations and offers other ways to help on their website. You can also donate to Connected Development, an organization that supports ostracized groups in Africa supports fundamental efforts to improve public services, and has called for accountability for SARS officers involved in these human rights violations.
Contact the press, keep the news media aware that there is a genocide taking place in Nigeria. You can also join a local protest in your city in solidarity with those in Nigeria as well as all those who face police brutality. Get involved! #EndSARS #EndSarsNow