There have been weeks of protests in Nigeria in opposition to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS. Nigerians and people around the world are specifically protesting police brutality, which SARS has been a long-time participant of. Unfortunately, the protests turned deadly when security forces fired live rounds on demonstrators and killed ten people just over a week ago. A major part of the movement’s outburst is the result of a video featuring a SARS officer allegedly shooting a man in Delta state before driving off, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad’s purpose is to fight violent crime in Nigeria like armed robbery and car jackings. SARS has been known to abuse power through unlawful arrests which have resulted in raping, beating, kidnapping, and stealing from young Nigerians. Despite SARS being reorganized in 2017, there has been no change.
The movement #EndSARS consists of seven demands from Nigerian youth, who are trailblazing the movement. These demands are as follows: cost of governance, institutional reforms, health reforms, constitution reforms, education reforms, public office reforms, and youth affair reforms. As you can infer, the call to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad is bigger than meets the eye, like many movements. People are demanding progress and wanting change to ensure a better life in Nigeria for future generations.
Many headlines speak of the absolvement of SARS, which was recently announced in a statement by the Inspector General of Police. However, this is not the news many have been hoping for. The same statement was released in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019; and now, a new unit by the name of SWAT has been formed to carry out the duties of SARS. Through SWAT, officers “will receive training on police conduct and use of force by the the international committee of the Red Cross.” But protesters fear that SARS officers will blend into the new unit without facing accountability and are using #EndSWAT in opposition.
The same article from the Wall Street Journal states that President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, agreed in a televised statement to disband SARS, but has been silent since. Protestors perceive the president’s statement as a way to cover up the issue of police brutality and abuse rather than solve it, and their anger is escalating.
How to help: donate to https://www.gofundme.com/f/4ppyfs-diasporans-against-sars; donate here and explore other ways to help on https://feministcoalition2020.com/
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