Over the past week, news of what is happening in Nigeria is coming to the forefront of the mainstream media. Here is a rundown of what the #EndSARS campaign represents and why it is so important to talk about it.
TW – talks of violence and murder.
What is going on in Nigeria?
Around two weeks ago, a video circulated on social media showing a man being beaten by officers from the Nigerian authorities. Because of this video, there have been calls for the SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) police unit in Nigeria, a unit created to help and protect civilians from armed robberies, to be disbanded. Even though the news of the protests has only just started to become global, the protests actually started nearly two weeks ago. The SARS police unit has been accused of assaults, shootings and illegal detentions; even though President Buhari actually dissolved the unit on Sunday 11th October, it has become part of a much wider picture. The demonstrators have called for more changes to be made in the security forces as well changes and reforms to the way the country is run as a whole.
On Tuesday night, a harrowing social media video showed what looked like guards and police turning off the lights where the protestors were demonstrating and opened fire on them. As the #EndSARS movement has grown and spread across Nigeria over the past two weeks, at least 56 people have died; it is thought and reported that 38 of those died on Tuesday alone. Even after the events on Tuesday, there has still been constant violence and force used by the police and those in the authorities.
Since the news has become much more of a global affair, many world leaders and members from governments across the world are having their say. The UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, tweeted this on Wednesday:
I am deeply concerned by the violence in Nigeria, including widespread reports of civilian deaths. We call for an end to all violence. The Nigerian government must urgently investigate reports of brutality by its security forces and hold those responsible to account.
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) October 21, 2020
US President hopeful and former Vice-President, Joe Biden, also released a statement detailing his views on the disturbing events in Nigeria. Biden encourages “the [Nigerian] government to engage in a good-faith dialogue with civil society to address these long-standing grievances and work together for a more just and inclusive Nigeria.”
As the week as progressed, more and more celebrities and high-profile people are using their platform to speak about the issue.
Why is the #EndSARS Movement so important?
The SARS unit have done the complete opposite of protecting Nigerian civilians. Instead, the unit have murdered, tortured and assaulted those who they are supposed to protect. African news is rarely broadcasted on mainstream, international news outlets which is sad. It’s as if many major broadcasters and publications deem African news and coverage as “irrelevant”. Because of this, it seems that Nigerians are protesting alone. Imagine if this happened in the UK – it would be international news; we stood against police brutality in America so, we should do the same for those in Nigeria. If the message is spread by us whether that be just talking about the issue or, using our online platform, we can only hope that it will help put an end to the police brutality and violence in Nigeria.
Featured header image by Frankie Stevens.