In recent times, Nigeria has witnessed so many protests across the nation but most renowned and viral is the #EndSars protest which ran into weeks thereby holding the nation to a ransom.
The Nigerian Police Force is one most negatively branded in the world. This is as a result of the force’s unprofessionalism in the discharge of their public functions.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad best known in its acronyms of SARS as an organ in the police force in recent times has assaulted many Nigerians, youths in most cases. Many deaths recorded from such unnecessary assaults.
The unchecked intrusion into people’s privacy, checking of phones in search for cyber fraudsters, illegal arrests and detentions, extra judicial killings, sexual harassment and many others instigated the ever peace-loving Nigerian youths into staging the biggest protest in the nation’s history, demanding for police reforms in the country and to end police brutality.
As a matter of fact, the SARS is notorious unit of the Nigerian Police with long record of abuses. It’s a branch under the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department in the Nigerian Police Force established in the late 1992 to detain, investigate and prosecute people involved in armed robbery, kidnapping and other related proscribed crimes but it has derailed from it’s original responsibilities.
The disbandment of SARS today is also a fruition from agitations sometime in the past from Nigerian citizenry. In 2017, a petition was written and signed by ten thousand, one hundred and ninety-five people, and it was sent to the Senate agitating for the disbandment but it lacked good backing from members of the senate.
This time, luck ran out of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad as protesters occupied all the streets of Nigeria demanding for the disbandment. This protest extensively seek to end police brutality in its entirety.
The campaign against further existence of the SARS recorded both positive and negative effects. Across the nation, campaigners lost their precious lives as these force men wouldn’t stop their professional stupidity. Arms were raised against armless protesters. What a country, called Nigeria! We are too different from the Western world whose ideologies we copy in most cases, but zero on the sanctity of all that has to do with the lives of her citizens.
The protest to end the SARS was most instigated with a video posted in the cyberspace on Saturday 3rd October, 2020, showing a young Nigerian in front of Wetland Hotel in Ughelli, Delta state. The police officers on patrol took the young man’s car without a known offence. This video caused a public outcry and reactions on social media, and as well revived the #EndSars protest.
The #ENDSARS protest groomed fully nationwide on the 8th of October, 2020 after weeks of outrage and anger by the Nigerian youths.
The campaign was accompanied with some salient demands by the Nigerian Youths which include:
* The immediate release of of all arrested during the protests
* Justice and compensation for those who died through police brutality
* An independent body be set up within ten days to investigate and prosecute all reports of police misconduct
* Psychological evaluation and retraining of SARS operatives
* Increment of the salaries of Nigerian Police Officers.
The fleshedup protest at some point was disrupted by the Nigerian Police Force in some cities across the nation via teargas, water cannons and shooting at unarmed protesters. This brings to mind the Lekki shooting that claimed many promising lives of Nigerian youths.
The 20th of October, 2020 was a black date for the youth folk of Nigeria. Brutality against protesters continued just to stop the protest. The governor of Lagos state on the said date declared 24hours curfew, effective from 4:00pm. Meanwhile, some persons said to be working with the Lagos state government and the Lekki Comcression Conpany disinstalled the supposed working CCTV camera at the Toll Gate and the street light at this vicinity were turned off. As reported, armed men arrived the scene few hours later and opened fire at the peaceful and unarmed protesters, thereby killing many cold blooded, and numerous people injured.
Since the protest to end SARS dampened by the federal government via the promise to look into the salient demands by the Nigerian youths, the government is yet to proactively fulfill these promises, and the continuous hunting of participants in the #EndSars campaigns may trigger another wave of the protest. Several youths are unlawfully detained, and accounts are ceased. The government should do well to avert eminent protests concerning this subject as it may rank worse for the nation.
Conversely, the year has reached its last days. It’s important I relate back to this incident before we all cross over to 2021. As the statistics would have it, it was one the worst years of Nigeria coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic that ravaged the whole world, Nigeria inclusive which brought about untold hardships and sufferings on the masses. SARS on the other hand harassed innocent citizens as contained in too numerous reports. In summary, 2020 is marked a bad year for Nigerians.
Explicitly, I’ve come to know that Nigerians are good with the initial energy to fight a bad system already in existence after which, we return to our shelves. It’s no longer anybody’s business whether what was agitated for was met by those concerned.
Today, the demands of the protesters presented to the Nigerian government have been thrown into the dustbin after some deliberate and calculated efforts to cause disarray among protesters thereby arresting, detaining, and freezing accounts of protesters. If this is what we call leadership then I wonder where we are heading to in this country called Nigeria.