A YEARNING FOR CHANGE #ENDSARS
END SARS PROTESTS
The END SARS movement started in 2017 as a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #ENDSARS to demand that the Nigerian government disband the security unit. With Nigerians having shared both stories and video evidence of how members of SARS engaged in kidnapping, murder, theft, rape, torture, unlawful arrests, humiliation, unlawful detention, extrajudicial killings, and extortion, a revitalization happened in October 2020 with mass demonstrations occurring in major cities throughout Nigeria and the world, with the hashtag accumulating over 28 million tweets.
WHAT IS SARS?
From the early 1990s, armed robbers and bandits were terrorizing Lagos and southern Nigeria. In 1992, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was formed to combat this and other serious crimes. Before that, it was the Nigerian Police Force’s responsibility to ensure safety of Nigerians against criminals. Other special units, which went by different names at various times, included the intelligence response team, special tactical squad, counterterrorism unit, and force intelligence unit, formed to tackle rising violent crime following the end of the Nigerian civil war in 1970.
For 10 years, SARS only operated in Lagos, but by 2002, it had spread to all 36 states of the Nigeria. As the Unit gained more power, they unfairly harassed and extorted young Nigerian Youth across the nation. Some of those targeted were young Nigerian’s with dreadlocks, and tattoos, as well as young women who if seen out at night, are flagged as prostitutes. Money was the only ticket to your freedom.
Africa at large is on the verge of an unprecedented change. The black lives matter protests in North America and Europe has sparked an urge for the youth all over the world to speak up for their rights. Hashtags like #congoisbleeding looking at the dangerous effects of copper mining on Congolese children as well as #anglophonecrisis highlighting the Cameroonian civil war are trending on Twitter and the people won’t rest till their voice is heard. Change is possible but change will not come without a fight and as the youth we are proud to support this movement for justice and preservation and dignity of human life.