End SARS - What's going on in Nigeria?

‘Citizens protests. Law enforcement intervenes. Conflict arises. Guns are drawn. Panic rises over and over again. Gunshots. Crowd disperse, some are shot. Blood is spilled. They fall one after another. Loved ones are lost. Anger and frustration are incited. Thirst for revenge is evoked. And again, citizens protests.’ By me.

As ambiguous as this may be, for it does not reflect on a specific instance, it is on the global occurring events of police brutality, the resistance, and trends that follow after. Namely, #BlackLivesMatter, #CollinKhosa, and the still-evolving movement #EndSARS sparked in 2020.

Similar to the BLM movement, the End SARS movement was sparked by a video of a man allegedly being killed by the police.

If you are not informed, the #EndSARS trend is the Nigerian movement, that eventually caught the attention of the world, addressing and fighting the outrageous behaviour of the special police unit that crippled the nation of Nigeria. The special police unit, SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad), was introduced in 1992 with initial intentions of dealing with crimes associated with robbery and firearms. However, this squad triggered controversies for its involvement with killings, torture, and other illegal activities.

It came to a point that people are being arrested and assaulted for minor and irrelevant reasons. Imagine being assaulted for owning an iPhone, or having an outstanding outfit, just because they associated that with an identity of a scammer or fraudster. These are the forms of privilege and abuse of power that led the people of Nigeria to integrate and fight the system as a single body with common goals. Goals to eradicate the oppression of SARS, and bring about justice to those who suffered in the hands of SARS.

Fortunately, on the 11th of October 2020,  the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, along with his presidency initially placed a ban on all functions of SARS, then later reformed the entire unit, as he was addressing that he is determined to put an end to law enforcement brutality. The reforming proposed to shut down the unit and reassign the whole staff to a new unit called SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics). And of course, this change brought controversies, and personally, I do not approve of the reform that the president proposed. One has to understand that it is the individuals, the bodies that constituted the unit at large, therefore, reassigning them will not promise any change in their morals, beliefs, the way they perceived the public and their modes of judgement. It will only change the direction in which the public of Nigeria will express their anger, and already the #EndSWAT movement has been initiated.

With that being said, I believe the better way forward is for the Nigerian presidency to make means to priorities the people of its nation and their well-being, by placing on hold the employment of those officers. Placing them on hold so that they can be granted workshops and sessions of redefining the purpose of an officer in the society, deconstructing their old modes of approaching every circumstance with violence and emphasize on the notion of being the protection, the shield, of the society. With such actions, the country of Nigeria will cease to suffer from the hands of inherited oppression.