Protests continue in Nigeria even after it was announced the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force would be dissolved on October 11th.
The police unit’s decades-long abuse of authority has had Nigerian youth demanding its government disband it, in a social movement known as End SARS or #EndSARS. The Nigeria Police Force’s announcement that it was dissolving the unit with immediate effect was widely seen as a success of the movement, but not all Nigerians were convinced by it. It was noted that the government had made similar promises before and had never followed through, and accordingly, protests have continued throughout the nation.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS, was first formed in 1984 to combat the swelling crime rates at the time. Its officers would roam around in plain clothes and unmarked cars, working to lower the rates of robberies, kidnappings, carjackings, and more. In the 1980s, Nigerians appreciated the crackdown on criminals, but in the following decade, the public’s relation with SARS changed.
The police unit was known to suspect young Nigerians with a middle-class living standard of having obtained it illicitly, and thus tended to target young men who dressed a certain kind of way and owned cars, laptops or smartphones. In the 1990s, as crime rates decreased and economic growth rates increased, the number that fit this description grew as well, and SARS began targeting innocent people based solely on their appearance.
In recent years, the Nigeria police force has become increasingly corrupt. According to the human rights group Amnesty International’s findings, SARS perpetrated “at least 82 cases of torture, ill treatment and extra-judicial execution” from January 2017 to May 2020.
Because of the police brutality and human rights abuses that have recently come to light, young Nigerians have come together to fight for a more equitable society. They have filled the country’s streets in protest and brought attention to the #EndSARS movement through social media. The movement has attracted attention internationally, as people from around the world as well as celebrities have shown their support for it online.
The demonstrations against police brutality in Nigeria are but a step in the people’s march towards government reform. Today, the people of Nigeria continue to fight for the future of their country.
Categories: World News