What is #EndSARS Protest in Nigeria?
The #EndSARSProtest started as a Twitter campaign in 2016 by Segun Awosanya, Segalink, a popular human rights activist.
It was taken to the streets in 2017, 2018 and in 2020; this time by popular Nigerian musicians, Falz and Runtown. Many musicians such as P Square, Flavour, Davido and Wizkid soon joined in voicing out #EndSARS.
Many civil society orgs and political associations such as Feminist Coalition and Coalition for Revolution also joined in.
The protest sprang from Abuja and Lagos to Anambra, Rivers, Oyo, Ondo, CrossRiver, Edo and many other southern states of Nigeria to across our shores in places such as New York, London, Hungary, Ireland etc.
What is SARS in Nigeria?
SARS means Special Anti-Robbery Squad a unit of the Nigeria Police Force established in 1992 by the Military President Babangida regime to checkmate the then high rate of armed robbery.
Sadly, the unit has become notorious for human rights abuse and brutality.
Benefits of EndSARS Protest
- Increased the interests of Nigerian youths in politics; many political associations sprang up……oops let me say, at least i know two.
- Scrapping SARS officially.
- United Nigerian youths regardless of tribe or religion, once in a long while.
- Promoted the creativity and innovatition of Nigerian youths such as canned water, street changing stations, So’ro soke (meaning “speak up”) Radio etc.
Causes of #EndSARS Protest in Nigeria
And again, I recall someone once said the SARS officers are looking for a specific all on the devices believed to be used by fraudsters.
But then, must this lead to the profiling and harassment of suspects?
Besides, is financial criminal investigation the job of SARS or that of EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission)
- The indiscriminate arrest of innocent Nigerian youths.
- The profiling of young Nigerians with expensive-looking possessions such as laptops, i-phones, brand new cars.
- The torture of Nigerians for the sake of extortion.
- The rape of Nigerian women.
- The killings of some Nigerians in Delta and Rivers States by SARS officers. This issues trended on the social media calling for an end to the negativity.
Negative Effects of #EndSARS Protest in Nigeria
- Nigerian youths didn’t identify the root cause of police brutality and bad governance.
- Sadly but truly , many Nigerian lost their lives due to police clampdown on the protest and a controversial Lekki massacre by unknown military men.
- It is quite likely that the Government in a bid to disrupt the protest sponsored hoodlums to loot from shops.
Personally, I would have preferred a “#ReformSARS” but SARS has been said to be reformed in 2017 and 2018, using word such as “disbanded” but they were still abusing human rights.
#EndSARS Protest: Lessons to Learn
Have we even paused to ask ourselves the lessons we learned from the #EndSARS Protest?
Experiences faced without lessons gained are useless
- Understanding the problems and solutions: We don’t seem to realise and agree on the problem and solutions. To some, the leaders are the problem: leaders came and left, I saw no changes! To some when they call for popular mobilization against those leaders and there is no popular mobilization they turn around to say the people are the problem: I look at the people and see that the people It is both the people and the government——a system; because the government become the people and the people become the government. Hence we asked for #EndSARS,but, thankful to God, we were clever enough to resist SWAT——-what would have likely turned-out to be a mere change of name.
- Mass movement is more effective: Within 2 weeks President Buhari administration ended SARS after the occupation of Lagos, Abuja, Nigeria Police HeadQuaters, Third Mainland Bridge and several expressways. If it were a single coalition, the leaders will have been called/arrested by DSS (Department of State Security).
- Our positive unity has the capacity for positive results: Nigerian youths fed one another, raised funds together and were for a long time in a long while, a fellowship of Nigerian youths and together we projected a unified movement capable of self-government.
- Addressing the root cause: SARS was sustained by the 1999 Nigerian Constitution; to stop the killings by SARS and all like SARS we should have advocated for a new Nigerian Constitution that can hold security of lives and properties.
I always believed that Nigerian youths have a role to play in the rebuilding Nigeria—-it proved true in the #EndSARS Protest——- another reason why I started my political blog for Nigerian youths’ political education.