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Nigeria is Experiencing a Humanitarian Crisis and The World is Just Watching

What is Happening in Nigeria?

Citizens of Nigeria have been protesting to disband SARS, a unit of the Nigerian Police Force for commiting acts of brutality, physical and sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, extortion, intimidation, and other abuses. The protestors have been tear gassed and repressed by police, while the government has dismissed their calls to eliminate the SARS police unit.

What is SARS?

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was assembled in 1992 after armed robbery became widespread in Nigeria. Most army and police resources were being utilized to find the person who murdered a Nigerian Army Colonel at a Lagos checkpoint which led to the establishment of SARS. It is a branch of the Nigerian police force, but they do not wear Nigerian police uniforms. Under multiple presidential regimes, SARS has abused its power through illegal activities and unlawful arrests which have resulted in raping, beating, kidnapping and stealing from young Nigerians. Over the years, there have been public records of SARS units committing acts of corruption and violence across the country. [1]

Why are Nigerians protesting?

The current wave of protests began with the death of a young man who had been shot by SARS for wearing a gold chain and having an expensive phone. The young man was shot in front of a hotel in Ughelli, a town in Delta state, and left for the dead. On October 11, 2020, the current inspector General of the Police released a statement claiming they are dissolving SARS as a unit. Yet this is nothing new, in 2015, 2017, and 2019, the same proclamations and declarations were made but nothing changes. Over the past two weeks the youth, led by different young women and men, have been demanding the dissolution of SARS in all forms[2]. There have been daily protests with eyewitnesses, and videos posted on social media displaying the state-sanctioned brutality that Nigerian citizens are witnessing, as they protest against brutality.

What do the Youth Want?

“We are demanding a systematic overhaul of governance and institutional reforms as the barest minimum. We are better than what obtains presently; we demand progress. We are not vain agitators. We are clear-eyes youths and professionals in our respective fields who are tired of the way and manner our dear country has been run around by successive administrators. We cannot idly stand whilst our future and that of our children are mortgaged.” [2]

The Nigerian Youth has expressed a strong determination to put an end to this systematic oppression and they do not plan to give up until the government listens to their voice and 7 demands.

  1. Institutional Reforms 
  2. Cost of Governance 
  3. Health Reforms
  4. Education Reforms 
  5. Public office Reforms 
  6. Constitution Reforms
  7. Youth Affair Reforms.

 #EndSARS Movement and #EndSWAT Movement 

The #EndSars Movement is a call to disband the SARS police due to the abuse and lack of accountability. #EndSARS was launched in 2017 and was originally targeted at SARS, but now it has become a broader call to reform all police in Nigeria. The movement also calls for:

-larger restructuring and reorganization of police

-ending impunity for abusive officers

-investigating and charging abusive officers

-suspending officers accused of abuse without pay

-compensating victims and families

-establishing an investigate committee to oversee current and past grievances of SARS brutality.

 Back to current time, on October 14th, the Nigerian inspector General of police ordered the creation of a new Special Tactics and Weapons Unit (SWAT) which would do the job of defunct SARS in the meantime. In simpler words, it is really just SARS 2.0, despite their claim that the SWAT will be “strictly intelligence-driven”, barred from indiscriminate and unlawful search of phones and other smart devices and must be free of any pending disciplinary action especially those touching on misuse of firearms and abuse of human rights. This new team led to the creation of #EndSwat in addition to #EndSars.[1]

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR US TO RAISE OUR VOICE?

Police brutality is a global issue with roots in White supremacy.

The #EndSars/#TheENDSWAT movement happening in Nigeria right now is a fight for humanity, VERY similar to the fight for Black Lives in the US. How much hate has overpowered the hearts of the systems meant to guard and protect its citizens regardless of class, ethnicity or colour? Today, police abuse and corruption in Nigeria has increased due to lack of funding, training and accountability. 

 LET IT BE KNOWN THAT ON THE 20TH OF OCTOBER 2020, THE NIGERIAN ARMY AND POLICE UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI MASSACRED PEACEFUL AND UNARMED PROTESTORS ACROSS THE COUNTRY DARING THE ASK FOR THE RIGHT TO LIVE. 

What can I do to HELP?

Amplify voices at the frontline– Social media has been the strongest tool during the moment. It is crucial that we all use our platforms to amplify the sufferings of people in Nigeria. Engage with #ENDSars on social media and share posts to help spread awareness of this violent injustice.

Volunteer your time and skills– Emergency medical teams, pro bono lawyers, and mental health support have been provided on ground to help protestors as needed. 

EDUCATE yourself and people in your surroundings about the happenings of S.A.R.S related events in Nigeria, no matter what country you belong to. The fight to break the chain and end this system of violence of police brutality across the world is the same.

DONATE funds if you can- crowdfunding options have been set up to provide food, health and legal services, security and other assistance to protestors. Here are a few official places which have come in contact with the protestors which you can donate to. All these donation places have been verified and show full accountability and transparency. [3]

  1. https://www.gofundme.com/f/4ppyfs-diasporans-against-sars?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=m_pd+share-sheet
  2. https://donatebtc.feministcoalition2020.com
  3. https://dashboard.flutterwave.com/donate/o4xphilav1ct
  4. https://dashboard.flutterwave.com/donate/o4xphilav1ct
  5. https://www.instagram.com/p/CGU5vmAJCie/
  6. Pledge your support through donations to UNICEF or the campaign for BundleAfrica.

Raise your VOICE because your VOICE matters. THIS IS NOT JUST A NATIONWIDE BUT A WORLDWIDE FIGHT. LET US JOIN HANDS AND SUPPORT OUR BROTHER AND SISTERS WHO ARE PROTESTING IN VARIOUS PARTS OF THE WORLD TO END THIS POLICE BRUTALITY AND INJUSTICE TOWARDS MINORITIES. #ENDSars and #ENDSWAT.

Where did I get this information from?

[1]https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2020/10/22/sars-a-brief-history-of-a-rogue-unit

[2]https://www.wsj.com/articles/nigeria-protests-whats-happening-and-why-are-people-demonstrating-11603277989

[3]https://www.stylist.co.uk/news/whats-happening-at-the-end-sars-protests-in-nigeria/442204

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