What’s Been Going on in Nigeria?

Unless you’re living under a rock, it’s unlikely that you haven’t seen anything on social media about what’s going on in Nigeria. The “#EndSARS” has been all over Twitter and Instagram for the past few weeks along with petitions, places and just general information about the protests. However, it’s difficult to keep track of all the information being thrown out there. There’s so much chaos going on in the world right now and always something new happening so it’s hard to keep up with all of it. Not to mention, much of the content being posted about SARS has depicted graphic violence, which can be triggering, especially after just finally getting past the wave of graphic videos depicting people being hurt by police at Black Lives Matter protests in America.

For those who don’t know what SARS is and why people want it to end: SARS is short for Special Anti-Robbery Squad. It’s a federal police unit in Nigeria that was formed close to thirty years ago with the intention to investigate, detain and prosecute people involved in violent crimes, such as armed robbery, kidnapping, use of illegal firearms and so on. However, they have been accused of several human rights violations. They have done illegal stop and searches often as well as illegal detainment of citizens on several occasions and according to Amnesty International, there have been at least 82 accounts of torture, cruelty and unlawful execution. They have documented SARS committing atrocities like beatings, rape, waterboarding, hangings and even mock executions just to be cruel and humiliating.

The #EndSARS movement actually started in 2017 but has recently begun to truly spark outrage worldwide on October 4th when a disturbing video revealed SARS officers dragging two men out of a hotel and killing one of them. Nigerian citizens began protesting and the #EndSARS movement blew up on social media around the world. Protests have been going on for only a few weeks, led by women and backed by the Feminist Coalition, who have played a major role in the organization and funding of these protests. Although they have been peaceful, a video was released showing police shooting into a crowd of protestors in Lagos and it has been documented that at least 56 protesters have been murdered in the past few weeks.

SARS has stated that they will be disbanding but this is something that they have said multiple times over the past few years and never actually does. The citizens have been abused, then promised disbandment only to receive a “reformed” SARS that does all the same things until the citizens get outraged again in a cycle that has gone on for years without signs of breaking.

This is a matter of survival; people are living under the fear of being tortured, raped and killed by the people they were told would protect them and when they’ve attempted to express their fear, they’ve been murdered.

The Nigerian government is attempting to suppress its citizens by feeding them lies and killing the people who don’t believe them.  It’s important for us to stay active in our support of the Nigerian people who are being stripped of their right to speak out. No matter where you are, there are many ways you can help Nigerians in the fight to disband SARS.