[Voice of Trevor]
So right now, the west Africa power house of 200+million people is dealing with a series of protest that might seem a little bit familiar to recent protests.
Reporting live : BBC
Nigerians have taken to the streets for what is now a second week of nationwide protests against police brutality. Protests across the country started after a video circulated last week. It reportedly showed members of the special anti-robbery squad or SARS fatally shooting a man and then driving off in his car.
Reporting live : BBC
“ This broadcast is being largely driven by young people they say that they bear the front of the brutality of this specialist police unit. The hashtag #endsars trended worldwide on social media for days with celebrities across the world of sports and entertainment getting in on the act. Celebrities like Kanye West have joined in the recent protests calling for an end to SARS.”
“Stop killing our boyfriends, stop killing our children.” –An aggrieved Nigerian
voice of Trevor
That’s right people, Nigerians in Nigeria and Nigerians all over the world have taken to the streets to call for an end to police brutality in their country and if you know anything about Nigeria, the fact that these people are all on the same page makes this even more incredible. Normally the only time Nigerians get this united is when their team is playing in the world cup or when they’re shitting on a neighbouring country’s food.
But even though this is a global movement that includes everyone from the youth of Nigeria, all the way to superstars like, Kanye West but there are many people out there who might say what is SARS and why do we need to hashtag end it.
Well let’s find out why??
As Nigeria struggled with high crime rates in the 90s the government decided that the best solution would be to create a special police unit who could do whatever they wanted to stop crime but as you might expect things didn’t go as planned.
“it’s a unit that was set up in the 90’s the initial purpose of it was to deal with armed robberies, cattle rustling and other violent thefts”
“They were given a special treatment, initially not needing to wear uniforms, acting as a sort of faceless security force overtime. Essentially, they used their autonomy to be able to move around very freely set up roadblocks but they were definitely became the kind of more brutal face of the police eventually being accused of extrajudicial killings, torture corruption and robbery. Many Nigerians essentially see SARS as a replica of the very criminal groups that were set up to address.”
[Voice of Trevor]
Ok I’m looking like that’s a plot twist I did not see coming. The good guys who were supposed to stop the bad guys eventually became worse than the bad guys. I mean, I suppose that, the one way to end crime you just take over the crime for yourself. That will be like if you got a dog to protect your house but then woke up in the middle of the night and the dogs got a gun pointed at your face like shhh-shhh be a good boy and nobody gets hurt. And I know what some of you might be saying right now well if these Nigerians were just to obey the law then they wouldn’t have to worry about the SARS police. Well unfortunately obeying the law doesn’t help when just existing is considered a crime.
Why the Protest??
“There has been a policing culture that targets young Nigeria youths that are perhaps seen in flashy cars and these are seen as internet fraudsters.”
“ Because they see young people looking good, young people dressing a type of way just automatically fill these guy’s a criminal.”
“You are profiled, if you have dreads if you have tattoos if you are wearing tatted clothes, if you have an iPhone”
“I’ve been in prison two times you in just one year, two times because of my iPhone and that the first question they ask you, where’s your phone? – [A victim of SARS Brutality]
Yes, SARS would arrest people for simply dressing well or having an iPhone and to have the police arresting people for their clothing choices must be so confusing because on the one hand it is horrible to be harassed by the police for how you look on the other hand it’s also kind of a compliment and if they don’t arrest you then you’ll be like, hold on: what’s wrong with my outfit you guys didn’t pull me over.
But the most surprising aspect of this for me is that people are getting profiled as criminals just for having an iPhone, which is insane. Criminals don’t use iPhone, they use flip phones, everybody knows this. If you need a phone that you might have to toss down a sewer while the cops are after you, you don’t spring for 5 jeep but this just goes to show that this issue isn’t unique in the US with its American police targeting black Americans or Nigerian police targeting other Nigerians.
Police in many countries around the world know that they can abuse their power without ramifications because the people they harass don’t have the power to respond, but after years of police brutality Nigerians have responded. They’ve taken to the streets over the last few weeks to say that enough is enough. Unfortunately, the police response to these peaceful protests has been all too familiar
Police Brutalising Protesters:
We have seen acts of police brutality on protesters demonstrating peacefully. Protesters dispersed by officers with water cannons, tear gas. Live ammunitions were used to disperse protesters against police brutality. – Reporter narrates
What is paramount to us is law and order. There must be law and order whatever we are doing. –A police inspector narrates
[Voice of Trevor]
You know it’s amazing how around the world law and order seems to be code for let’s beat the **** out of these protesters because just like we’ve seen in the US the police in Nigeria responded to protests about police brutality with more police brutality and this is the kind of behavior that you only see with police no other industry has this. Imagine complaining to your waiter that there’s something wrong with your food and he responds by spitting in it right in front of you. I mean I’m still going to eat
Now the good news is the protests worked and all the pressure paid off. In fact, the Nigerian government announced, that they would cancel the SARS unit with immediate effect.
The bad news is they already have a spin off in the works.
[A reporter reports]
The Nigerian inspector general and the entire world have heard those chance of end SARS and now the country is dissolving its controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad known as SARS, a rebranded Nigerian police unit called special weapons and tactics or swat has been organized and includes members of that disbanded group.
The campaigners here are calling the decision to abolish SARS a hollow victory and they say that they will continue protesting. They are out on the streets this morning. They say these are just words and they are demanding action. This is after all the 4th time that this very same unit has been disbanded and nothing has changed.
[Voice of Trevor]
How you going to disband the corrupt units but then rehire the same officers under a different name, that makes absolutely no sense. So, despite the government cracking down, protesters have remained in the streets and are now demanding wholesale reforms in all parts of Nigerian life
And as we saw just yesterday the police crackdown is only becoming more violent. What started as a police protest has now turned into a call for a social revolution.
Nigerians now want more jobs, better schools, better infrastructure and an end to all corruption. Which is what hashtag ENDSARS has now become and if you don’t know now you know.
IN CONCLUSION AFRICA IS FIGHTING A WAR AND WE NEED TO SHOW SOLIDARITY Join The protest on twitter. #EndSarsNow #EndPoliceBrutalityNow #LekkiGenocide