Updated: Oct 21, 2020
SÓRÓ SÓKÉ WÉRÉY.
Is the billion-dollar embezzling, public health crisis denying, degenerating Nigerian government admitting to not having any semblance of morality or are they actively choosing to ignore the police brutality against their citizens? How many more Nigerians need to die at the hands of an unjust system before a change is made? What can be said about a country when those who feed off of violence, greed, and corruption have the power of the law in their hands get away with unlawful arrests, extortion, sexual assault, unlawful detention, robbery, and even murder? ENOUGH is ENOUGH. END SARS NOW!
Here is a one minute summary of what’s been going on in Nigeria:
For those who may or may not know, there is a national uprising called #ENDSARS taking place in Nigeria right now that demands the response from the government, politicians, and the rest of the world. The Special Anti-Robbery Squad was formed in 1992 with the purpose of targeting violent crimes that take place in Nigeria’s capital, Lagos. One of the many reasons that makes SARS an incredibly useless organization that feeds off of fearmongering and terrorism tactics is the fact that they patrol the streets in plain clothes, no police identifying information, and travel in unmarked vehicles. Due to the fact that it’s difficult to actually identify and report such officers, the officers feel emboldened to act with impunity.
Nigerians have already been experiencing a culmination of extreme unrest and discomfort with SARS for decades now, however, protests officially exploded in Nigeria on October 4th, 2020 when SARS operatives allegedly shot dead a young man in front of a hotel inside Ughelli area of Delta State in the Southern part of Nigeria. Disappointingly but unsurprisingly enough, police in Nigeria denied SARS involvement in the man's death. As a result, young people all across Nigeria took to the streets and decided to protest for the end of SARS, the end of injustice and the end of death at the hands of Nigerian Police. The fact that people are willing to put their life on the line in the midst of a global pandemic that has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands across the world thus far just goes to show how frustrated Nigerians are. They are tired of living a life that is deemed worthless by those in charge and are ready to take back what is theirs: their fundamental right to live.
The Nigerian government called for the disbandment of SARS after the protests initially broke out on Sunday, October 11, 2020, but the fight is not over. In a statement to MSN, Idayat Hassan, the executive director of the Abuja-based Centre for Democracy and Development said, “It’s people revolting against bad governance, but using the symbolism of police brutality,” They said “It goes deeper.”
This is a leaderless protest that has no ONE true leader, however it’s been joined by a coalition of different groups of people and support networks who have been uplifting this protest. Some of the people and groups that I know have been actively working to ensure the fire within this protest doesn’t burn out are Feminist Coalition, END SARS Response, FKA Budu, and so much more. Whether it’s people providing food on bulk, shelter to those in need, or charging outlets for those who need to charge their electronics, the youth of Nigeria are working together to sustain one another during this time in ways that the Nigerian government has never done before.
Here are some of the amazing things people have done thus far to help support the Nigerian community during this time:
1. Provide tents
2. Provide a helpline that includes medical help, legal support, food and supplies, and mental health resources
3. Organize Traffic Flow
4. Raise Money and Donate to Those In Need
5. Launched an Online Radio to Keep People Informed
6. Combat Against Financial Fraud Committed by SARS Officials
7. Find Missing Protestors & Reunite Them With Their Family
8. Sent Out Security and Ambulances to Various Areas across Nigeria
9. Provide FREE Buses for Protestors to get to the Protest Venues in Lagos
10. Clean Up the Community and the Streets
These are the sort of initiatives that we would like to see from the Nigerian government, but due to their extreme incompetencies, greed and sinful levels of laziness and waste, Nigerians have had to step up and take on these roles themselves. All of the recent displays of humanity and compassion during these protests show that Nigerians are resilient and resourceful people in the face of any challenge. The support networks that Nigerians, especially the youth of Nigeria have developed amongst each other is absolutely remarkable and will be remembered for generations to come. What has made these protests so successful and empowering thus far is the clear yet concise coordination amongst each other, the open transparency about what’s going on (especially with where money that’s raised is being distributed to), and accountability. However, Nigerians are still demanding for justice and there is still a lot of work to do on ground, online, and outside of the country.
WAYS THAT YOU CAN HELP:
If you are based inside OR outside of Nigeria, there are many things that you can do to help support those on ground. If you have the financial means, please feel free to donate money.
You can donate to the Feminist Coalition here who is responsible for a lot of the donations.
LEGAL SUPPORT & VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY
If you are living in Nigeria and you are a lawyer, there are volunteer opportunities available for those willing to offer legal support to those in need, especially protestors getting arrested. You can fill out this Google Docs form to offer legal aid.
If you are in need of mental health support in Nigeria, please feel free to reach out to:
Post Protest Organized Care on Twitter for mental health aftercare for protestors
REPORT MISSING PEOPLE, ARRESTED PROTESTORS, OR POLICE BRUTALITY
If you need to report any missing people in Nigeria, arrested protestors, OR if you are a victim of police brutality, please feel free to feel out these forms:
Missing People in Nigeria - Click Here
Arrested Protestors - Click Here
If you are a victim of police brutality and have proof that you can attach - Click Here
Also, please feel free to check out this carrd to learn more and to share with others.
This fight for liberation is not just taking place in Nigeria. There is a continental crisis taking place in other areas of Africa, as well. In Congo, they’re dealing with sexual exploitation, people in Namibia are trying to combat against the sexual violence against women, extremist violence is causing food shortages in Mozambique, and there are protests against the Cameroonian government. Whether it be Nigeria, Congo, Namibia, Mozambique, or Cameroon, or anywhere else, Africa is rising up against its oppressors. We refuse to be silenced any longer.
With all that being said, Nigeria recently celebrated its 60 year of independence, however the youth of Nigeria do not feel like the nation they live in is one that they can be 100% proud of. Considering the police brutality, corruption, extortion, exploitation, poor infrastructure, failing economy, lack of job opportunities, lack of funding in education, and holes within the medical system, the pain that they’ve been experiencing has been bubbling over and they’re fed up with it. How can you feel proud of and feel safe in a country that doesn’t actively work to protect you? This is not the independence that Nigerians dreamt of, so it’s time to turn that around.
May the lives that were lost to the hands of police brutality and sexual violence be remembered forever.
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