Protests continue in Nigeria

Alyssa Lai

In Nigeria, nationwide protests against SARS persists. Videos of the protests as well as violence against the protestors have circulated the internet at a rapid pace. At the same time, misinformation about the protests have spread across social media. So to clear the air, what is SARS, and why are citizens in Nigeria protesting against it?

SARS or the Special Anti-Robbery Squad is a Nigerian Police Force Unit established in 1992. It’s original purpose is to deal with crimes relating to robbery, motor vehicle theft, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and firearms. However over the past two weeks, allegations of police brutality and impunity have been held against SARS.

On Oct. 3, a video allegedly shows multiple SARS officers killing a man in Nigeria. Soon after authorities put out a statement claiming that it was fake and arrested the man who recorded it. The citizens of Nigeria took to the streets to protest this abuse of power. Protestors gathered in Abuja and Lagos, they held up signs while crying out, “End SARS.” 

Several celebrities such as Rihanna, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj, have spoken out in favor of the #EndSARS movement on their social media platforms.

After eight days of protest, Nigeria’s police chief called for the dissolution of SARS. Muhammed Adamu, inspector general police told citizens of the immediate abolition of the SARS police unit. However protests rage on. Protestors demand justice for the victims of police brutality. 

This Tuesday, Oct. 20, Nigerian security forces opened fire on protestors in Lagos. In videos released from the incident, gunfire is heard in the background as wounded citizens are shown. Amnesty International reported 12 people were killed in Alausa and Lekki Toll Gate Lagos with hundreds severely injured. After the shooting, the street lights went out and security cameras were removed from the scene.The protests that took place in Lagos were peaceful according to witnesses.

In response to the shooting, a crowd had set a police station on fire. Protestors blocked roads and demanded that the officers involved in the shooting be put on trial. However, the majority of the protests have been reported as peaceful. 

Yesterday, Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari gave a national address concerning the protests. His address did not mention the violence that took place in Lagos. He demanded an end to the protests against SARS. He told protestors to, “resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.” Buhari also warned that by protesting it, “ will amount to undermining national security and the law and order situation.”