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Nigeria: The End SARS Campaign

Photo by Richard Badejo from Pexels

The End SARS campaign is a social movement that led to a series of protests against the unlawful use of excessive force and police brutality in Africa’s most populous country Nigeria. The protest was conducted with a goal of disbanding the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). This police unit has a long record of abuse, unlawful forms of punishment and excessive brutality that has often caused unnecessary bodily harm and even death to victims of the unit. Even though, the SARS was commissioned for the good of the country.

The protest originally started in 2017, but became more vibrant in 2020 mainly due to the widespread use of social media. October 2020 was the climax of the End SARS campaign. This was triggered by the surfacing of a video showing of the SARS killing a young man and shortly after, the death of an upcoming artist caused by a police officer. This led to the eruption of anger that saw Nigerian youths take to the streets in peaceful demonstration across the country. However, the police and the Nigerian authorities intervened by arresting some of the protesters and freezing bank accounts of persons believed to be financing the protest. However, with the help of the Twitter former CEO, Nigerians found a way to receive funds by shifting to the use of Bitcoin.

On 20th October 2020, the dreadful event now dubbed the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre happened. The Nigerian army and police force descended on the peaceful protesters in Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos in an attempt to disperse them. The forces used teargas and live bullets on the protesters killing at least 12 protesters and injuring hundreds more.

What made this protest popular and unique is the fact that most of the campaigns were presented on social media platforms. The twitter hashtag #EndSARS was a key player in this protest, that even the Former CEO created a logo for the campaign which ended up annoying the Nigerian government.

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