Resistance to the Force of Police Brutality

Nadia Hossain, Writer

Protests are breaking out in Nigeria, the country with the highest population in Africa, in response to police brutality going on. The government has made controversial promises to these young protesters who want to be free from persecution. The president himself has said that the concerns about the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) had been heard, but no great action has been taken to end the operations. This movement started when the many videos captured by protestors were spread using #EndSARS, the hashtag that extended on Twitter and accumulated global attention in different places.

SARS was created in 1992 to decrease violent crimes such as robberies, vehicle thefts, kidnappings, and other offenses caused by gangs and thieves. The regiment only started with few members but gradually grew in huge numbers. Now, these squads are the ones who are accused of wrongdoings of abuse, rape, and more tortures.

The opposition rose in the past month in well-known cities like Lagos when videos of SARS officers intentionally killing people were spread through the use of social media. Around the country, #EndSARS arose with crimes happening, and many protesters coming together to voice their rights. One impacting protest was in an area named Lekki, where people peacefully gathered when the soldiers started shooting. It resulted in more military suppressions and curfews to stop people from speaking out.

Muhammadu Buhari, the current elected president, states that “The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms. We will also ensure that all those responsible for the misconduct are brought to justice.” Even if he made his statements, many do not trust or believe his words, because as a military ruler in the eighties, he was a disciplinarian. The protesters also think that the government is targeting the largely young population, an average of 18 years old, and that to break up this movement, they are using this force by harassment, arrests, and oppression of the people.

As this matter has spread all over the world, especially in the US, many famous musicians, media stars, and celebrities, both in America and Nigeria, have acknowledged the situation. Top Nigerian stars such as Wizkid, Davido, and Tiwa Savage have attended protest rallies in support of ending the force. Other well-known people like Chance the Rapper, Cardi B, Beyonce, and even newly elected President Joseph R. Biden have stated their thoughts on the ongoing protests.

This ongoing abuse of power involves the government, its military, and the lives of thousands of young adults living in Nigeria. The people in power are not complying with the demands and protests of people who want better treatment, and it is damaging both the environment and the ones living in it. Any kind of intended or unintended actions can set off more objections for the many demonstrators.