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Protests in Nigeria to #EndSARS

In early October, protests began again in Nigeria to end the Special Anti Robbery Squad, a police unit known as SARS. Nigerians have protested SARS ever since 2017, but a recent shooting of a man by a member of SARS has made the movement even more widespread. Created in 1992 to stop violent crime in Lagos, Nigeria, SARS has been accused of extrajudicial killings, torture and harassment.

Most of the victims taken by SARS are young, and because more than 40% of Nigeria’s population is under 30 years old, the #EndSARS movement is led by the youth via online advocacy and in-person protests. In addition to being targeted by police, young people in Nigeria also suffer from unemployment and poverty. Therefore, their demands for fairer policing are also linked to wanting better governance and less inequality between the rich and the poor.

Although President Buhari pledged to end SARS multiple times, this change has yet to occur. Many of the Nigerian people no longer believe his promises, which is why the movement continues to pressure the government. However, after a peaceful protest at the Lekki toll gate was disrupted by the military killing at least 12 people, the protestors have agreed to focus more of their efforts online rather than in-person to avoid losing more lives in unnecessary violence. In addition to the Lekki massacre, it is estimated that 56 people have been killed throughout the protests. This has left many in Nigeria and across the world angry and calling for change.

Overall, the movement has empowered youth, especially women, to take action for better futures. With the Feminist Coalition raising a large amount of money to fund protests and setting an example of honesty with the way they spend the money, people have a reason to hope for better future leadership. A young female protestor told CNN, “One thing I have got from this entire thing is that the moment people come together, they can achieve anything.”

Key Questions

  1. Why do you think SARS police steal from people and treat them unfairly?

  2. What changes could be made so that police are fairer to people who have committed crimes and those who haven’t?

  3. Do you think it is worth risking violence to protest for change?

  4. If you were part of this movement, how would you protest safely online?

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