With every death of an African-American man or woman by police officers, Americans of every race have taken to the streets to protest racial injustice and demand change. However, after the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbury, there was a shift. Americans felt that enough was enough, and that change needed to happen immediately. Since Floyd’s death on May 25th, there have been protests all around the country and internationally to demand justice for these victims. Like the issues that African Americans deal with when it comes to police brutality, Nigerians are experiencing the same problems and have decided that a change is necessary.
The SARS unit in Nigeria, also known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, has been at the center of controversy, and Nigerians have been protesting nationwide to have the team disbanded. Protests began after a video of SARS officers killing a man became public. As reported by CNN, “Amnesty International documented at least 82 cases of torture, extrajudicial killings, extortion, and rape by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020.” Nigerian Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, announced that SARS would split up, but that was not enough to calm Nigerian citizens. Nigerians continued protesting to ensure that all rogue officers would be held accountable. Following the emergence of the controversial video, the hashtag #EndSars began trending all around the world. Since the hashtag #EndSars has gone viral, celebrities worldwide have come out in support of the movement, including Davido, Kanye West, Trey Songz, and Burna Boy.
I stand with my Nigerian brothers and sisters to end police brutality, the government must answer to the peoples cries #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigeria— ye (@kanyewest) October 12, 2020
In response to the growing uprisings, the Nigerian government has banned protests nationwide and in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja. According to the government, these protests are forbidden, citing public safety measures to tackle the coronavirus. The Nigerian military issued a warning to “subversive elements and troublemakers” to stop after a week of protests. Nigerian Army spokesman Colonel Sagir Musa stated that the Nigerian Army “supports the civil authority in whatever capacity to maintain law and order and deal with any situation decisively.” This statement has been taken as a threat by protesters, fueling their fire to fight against police brutality.
Similar to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the United States, the move to disband SARS has been lead mainly by Nigeria’s youth. They have seen the atrocities that SARS is capable of and decided to stand up against the establishment. Popular Nigerian Actor and Musician, Falz TheBahdGuy has been a major voice during these protests. Nigeria’s youth feel that they are targets of SARS and demand a change within the system. This struggle mirrors the fight of African-Americans when it comes to police brutality in the United States. Both Nigerian youth and African-Americans feel that they are targets of the police, and that law enforcement officers are never held accountable for their actions. These protests, in both the United States and Nigeria, show that the people are tired of feeling oppression, and change is inevitable. Following his announcement that SARS will disband, Nigerian Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu stated that another group would replace SARS; this unit is called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT. Let’s hope that one day, Nigeria and the United States will see equality for all citizens.
By: Lauren McKeithen
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