#EndSars, a movement started on Twitter in 2017, proceeds to take over not only the internet but the world today, with mass protests calling for the disarming of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. SARS is a unit of the Nigerian police operating under their State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department. Typically known for their brutality towards citizens, deaths at their hands is not surprising, with the citizens of Nigeria holding the greatest threats on their heads because of them. SARS can, at any instant march upon you, torture you, kill you and walk away scot-free, primarily because of the relationship they share with the judiciary.
SARS came into existence in 1984 to control the violent nature of crimes that rose manifolds in the country. Ironically, they are the ones who have been abusing their power and authority by exploiting their own countrymen. However, the #EndSars movement is not just concerning police brutality but includes all the aspects of why the Nigerian government is silent on the social problems its country faces. Why does the law not render justice to those who have been victims at the hands of SARS and regarding the state of the nation with corruption and unemployment?
SARS at the start was able to regulate most violent crimes, but reports indicate that it did not take long for them to turn to what they are today. Moreover, Amnesty International and other Human Rights organizations reported that Nigeria saw approximately 82 deaths because of police brutality in the past three years. Furthermore, reports asserted that the majority of victims were men between the age of 17 and 30. Additionally, anyone that was detected possessing gadgets was abducted in the name of cyberbullying. Those with money and no political connection were abducted for torture to extort cash and men observed wearing ripped jeans and tattoos were assumed to be a gangster. Once abducted, these victims were subjected to torture through cigarettes burns, teeth breaking, hanging until the very last moments, punching, and other forms of torment that strips away basic human dignity from an individual.
This protest rose on the streets after an incident in Lagos, a city in the South-East part of the nation. Here, the police killed a 20-year-old boy while he was playing football with his friends. This happened entirely because the police wanted people to remain in lockdown due to COVID-19. Though, when asked for a justification they easily washed their hands away by saying it was an act of self-defence. But the question here is, did the boy deserve to die? And was the police really protecting its citizens?
Another severer instance occurred in the town of Lekki in Nigeria where unarmed protesters were brutally massacred on the 20th of October 2020. Smartly enough, it was made certain that CCTV cameras were removed from toll plazas to evade any sort of evidence. To make things worse, the state was so weak that they let people die on the street and due to the delay in medical aid, people had to be wrapped up in bloody Nigerian flags of which CNN provided proof. Moreover, countless people who were part of that protest have been missing since that day. In regards to this, the Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said while dismissing the CNN investigation by calling these kidnappings "fake news" and "misinformation," further repeatedly denying that the military used live rounds against protesters. "Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report. I must tell you that it reinforces the disinformation that is going around, and it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization," he told reporters at a press conference in Abuja, the most significant federal government response until the date of October 20 massacre and violence.
Stressing on the missing people's reports. Though the papers state otherwise, family members are missing from the day of the massacre. They went to protest and have not returned home since. Where are these missing people? If dead, where are their bodies? And if not dead, are they being subjected to judicial torture in their state? All these questions remain unanswered. But the real question here is, what options do people of the nation have? Being a democratic country for the last 21 years, their representatives in the government have the responsibility to keep people safe. They need to be held accountable for the actions of their armed forces, but instead, they are occupied mimicking those who come out to protest. Additionally, if protests seem to gather significant attention, they shut them down by opening fire to instil fear in the mind of people to stop them from protesting. Unfortunately, this movement still does not get the attraction from the world. Things demand to be heard, and justice demands to be served.
The circumstances in Nigeria can crumple into being a military-ruled nation again, where people have no right to humanity and justice. However, Nigeria still has the hope to change things but only when the right people start joining them. Powerful nations and organizations need to stand by the people of Nigeria and help them obtain the justice they deserve because alone they are falling short in stopping this un-justified torture. Instead, they are losing lives every day. It is time to introspect and ask for justice for the people who really hold no power against their government, rather than doing it in a selective manner because everyone deserves to live.