The Nigerian police agency SARS, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, announced itself to the world in June when Amnesty International reported at least 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment, and extrajudicial executions committed by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020; the majority of cases involved men between the ages of 18 and 25.
On October 3rd, a video depicting the killing of a young man by SARS officers dressed in all black was released that became the catalyst for the #ENDSARS movement. Soon after, on October 12th, the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari agreed to disband SARS saying it was, “only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reform in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people.” This proved to be only minor progress as former SARS officers, even those accused of the most violent crimes, were moved to other parts of the Nigerian police system instead of being prosecuted.
As with other movements we’ve seen around the world, the driving force behind #ENDSARS are young Nigerians expressing their disappointment and concern on social media platforms; with half of Nigeria’s population being under 19, it is easy to understand why the discontent has spread like wildfire. As time has gone on, the #ENDSARS platform has begun to encompass a host of issues including the government’s catastrophic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the citizens of Nigeria stand for justice, it is important to stay informed and support their cause in any way possible. Below you can find ways to do both:
- A website has been created to document abuses committed by SARS and give victims a voice at https://endsars.com/. Additional informational resources:
- Numerous crowdfunding efforts have been created including https://feministcoalition2020.com/ which has raised about $180,000 (70 Million Naira). In addition, the organizers of the movement have made a point to set an example of transparency in how the funds being donated are being disbursed in the way that they expect from government officials. For the feminist coalition, you can find a day-to-day summary of their accounts here.