Young Nigerians unite to end police brutality

October 29, 2020

Photograph of Young Nigerian Man by Adeboro Odunlami from Pixabay

Olivia Opara reports on gruesome malpractice in Nigeria’s government and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad

October 1st 2020 marked 60 years of Nigeria’s independence from British colonial rule. Nigerians across the diaspora took to social media to celebrate their diamond jubilee whilst homeland Nigerians barely batted an eye.

Many sent backlash towards those outside of the country, condemning their celebratory happiness. Ergo, what took prominence was the rhetoric:

“60 years and nothing to show for it.”

But why? Why were the homeland Nigerians against the celebrations of those outside? Why are they so anguished?

Police Brutality and Governmental Corruption.

Nigeria’s ‘Special Anti-Robbery Squad’ (SARS) has come under intense fire and resistance from the youths of Nigeria. Young people from Delta, Abuja, Benin, Ibadan and more have come together in solidarity and pain; pain caused by those who are meant to protect them. Those who have broken the ‘Social Contract’ between Nigerians and those in power.

According to Wikipedia, SARS is a police unit under the ‘Fore Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department’. Its main role is to deal with “crimes associated with armed robbery, car snatching, kidnapping, cattle rustling and crimes associated with firearms.” However, public records detail the gruesome and corrupt acts perpetrated by SARS against the Nigerian public.

Nigeria known for having a corrupt government only seems worsened under President Buhari

Accounts by young people of their interactions with SARS have left many both terrified and in disbelief. Videos of SARS organising and facilitating theft and kidnapping, rape and murder, unlawful arrests and detentions, torture and humiliation have been shared across the Internet. And these acts are just the tip of the iceberg of corruption and brutality.

What is happening in Nigeria?

With ‘Black Lives Matter’ raging against police brutality outside Africa, the diaspora has unknowingly turned a blind eye towards police brutality within Africa.

Nigeria is known for having a corrupt government with corrupt systems. This corruption only seems to have worsened under President Buhari. Since his election, the State of Nigeria has been in disarray. From unemployment being at a rate of 27.1%, up from 23.1% in 2018 (as reported by QuartzAfrica), to multiple governmental controversies, the Nigerian public have come to detest the government.

And of course, with corruption of power comes exploitation.

It has been brought to light that SARS are targeting individuals based upon a flawed profiling system. This system targets young people based upon their attire. It seems like a satirical reflection of racial profiling. The concept of ‘high status symbols’ – iPhones and designer clothing – being synonymous with illegality have allowed for this tirade and extortion of youths.

With youth solidarity and celebrities’ support, the hashtag ‘ENDSARSNOW’ is trending across the globe

SARS have utilised this illogical basis for a ‘just’ excuse to conduct and operate illegal breaking and entering, illegal stop and searches, and illegal road blockades. All this is being done without valid warrants. Many people with unconventional accessories, such as piercings on men, tattoos, even dreadlocks and ‘unusual’ hair colouring, have been victims to unlawful harassment by SARS.

Governmental officials have constantly ignored or have wilfully remained ignorant to the terror of the public incited by SARS. This has resulted in mass outcry from Nigerians in anger.

With youth solidarity and celebrities’ support, the hashtag ‘ENDSARSNOW’ is trending across the globe. Multiple protests within Nigeria and major cities such as New York and London took place on Sunday 11th October.

Only a couple of weeks ago President Buhari was wishing his people a glorious diamond jubilee. Now, he is in the hot seat for deceit. This is the same president that condemned the Libyan Government for treating Nigerians as “goats” (read more) yet he treats Nigerians as cattle fodder for his and his fellow elites’ gains.

Muhammadu Buhari and his peers have created the devastation that pervades Nigeria today. They have contributed to and encouraged the rampant corruption that has allowed for the likes of SARS to terrorise and destroy.

Please join hands and share and support #ENDSARS protests here: Project Protect.

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