Why you might see #EndSARS on your timeline right now, and what it means.
As I write this there are numerous protests going in and around Nigeria. The hashtag #EndSARS was the number one trending topic worldwide on Friday and was one of the the number 10 trending topics over the weekend. And the question people outside Nigeria have might be "What is SARS, and why do people want it to end?"
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) is a sector of the Nigeria Police force under the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Division. It was founded in 1992, to investigate and detain individuals involved in criminal activity like armed robbery, kidnapping and more recently cybercrime. More often than not, they abuse their power which ends up illegal arrest and detention, assault, extortion, torture, rape and even murdrer. There numerous cases of young people that left the house and never returned.
The #EndSARS movement is one that has been gaining traction for years. In 2017, Segun Awosanya took on the End SARS campaign which led to protests not unlike the ones that are going on right now. There have been countless campaigns and protests urging the government to dissolve the group. As Nigerians, we are tired of the violence that has come out of SARS encounters. Many took to Twitter to share their stories along with the hashtag, including people I know.
What makes a SARS officer different from typical policemen is how they are dressed. While many police officers are dressed in government-issued uniforms that can be tracked and accounted for, SARS officials are usually dressed like civilians. They could walk past you on the street and you would not know. Thus meaning that you would not know when they were coming. Here is an example of what a SARS officer might look like
Many of them show no remorse and are willing and happy to use their weapons on individulas who they deem a threat. There are public records of the atrocities SARS have committed. This infographic shows major SARS incidents in the last 18 months.
These incidents mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. Videos and tweets pop up constantly showing the brutal way SARS officers treat the citiznes they are supposed to protect. And there is no accountability because they are a branch of the police, meaning what they doing is allowed by those in power.
And ultimately, this is where a lot of frustration lies. It was announced on Sunday that SARS has been disbanded by the Inspector-Genenral of Police, Adamu Mohammed. Herein lies the issue... This is not the first time SARS has been disbanded, it's the fourth.
There has been no real action to get these violent individuals off the street. Even with the backing of senators an international organisations like Amnesty International.
The president of Nigeira Muhammadu Buhar stated in speech on Monday
The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms 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.
And again, this is not the first time that these kind of words have been said, and people are tired of hearing them. Especially when you consider the fact that these same police officers were shooting at unarmed peaceful protesters over the weekend and even killed one of them with no consequences as of the time this post was written.
The current adnimistration is doing everything in their power to ingnore the people, from using water canons and tear-gas on protesters, to freezing donations and unlawfully arresting protesters. One state governor even went so far as to ban protesting which is a direct violation of s.40 of the Constituion.
These protests are born from a group of people who are tired of having to struggle for what they have. I love Nigeria but it a country filled with unecessary hardship and a governemnt that does not care and continues to deliver empty promies.. And my generation is determined to fix it and we will do what is necessary to make that change. And if they have to block a few roads to bring their point across, then I'm all for it.