I’m sure that if you’ve been on social media lately, you must have come across multiple posts spreading the awareness of what has been going on in Nigeria. With many people protesting for the end of police brutality and the end of “SARS” I’m sure you must be wondering what has brought about this propaganda. Well let me break it down for you…
SARS, also known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, is an armed police force unit in Nigeria which is supposed to tackle armed robberies and specific cases of that league. Unfortunately this form of security tasked with the job of protecting civilians has been terrorising the youth for decades leading to innocent people being brutalised, harassed, extorted, killed and some even pronounced as missing. They parole the streets of Nigeria targeting the youth and arresting them for menial reasons such as driving a good car, possessing an iPhone or even for not agreeing to pay them bribes.
This is a disturbing reality that many Nigerians have been forced to live in for many years and have been expected to remain silent in.
On the 8th of October, with many people tired of the oppression, they began the movement to bring the destruction of this police force unit and to bring justice to those who has been harassed and killed by officers of this unit.
The movement led to nationwide peaceful protests, with civilians from over 10+ states expressing their human right for the disbanding of this unit. Roads were blocked as people united for one cause: JUSTICE.
Nigerians from all walks of life came together, ate together, chanted together and prayed together as they stood side by side with their fellow countrymen to plead for justice from the government. But instead the government replied with nothing but silence as people cried for change. But the protestors remain persistent in order to get a positive response.
On the 20th of October 2020, the state of Nigeria changed as the government responded with a “curfew” which called for civilians in Lagos state to observe a 24 hour curfew in order to reduce the road blocks and unrest of the city. Protestors still gathered peacefully to sing the national anthem and wave their Nigerian flags in order to still plead with the government for change. Following this order, a few hours later, armed police officers and military arrived at one of the prominent protesting sites known as Lekki Toll gate and opened fire on the peaceful unarmed protestors leading this the death of around 70 people. Prior to this, CCTV cameras at the toll gate were removed in order to hide the evidence of this atrocity. The shootings carried on throughout the night leading to civilians retaliating in anger. This lead to nationwide lootings, the burning down of infrastructure and further turmoil. Police officers prevented ambulance services from reaching people that needed to be treated which lead to innocent people literally fending for themselves.
Despite video graphic evidence collected from multiple eye witnesses posted on Twitter and Instagram, the police and army publicly denied their involvement in the shootings whilst political officials minimised the severity of the situation, labelling this crime against humanity as “fake news”. The president, after 2 weeks of silence, lackadaisically addressed the nation. He did not acknowledge the shootings. He did not acknowledge the lives lost. He did not address the police force. Instead he urged protestors to stop protesting and told other countries to quite frankly “mind their business”.
During this time, private organisations were strategically created to uphold strength for civilians during the protests. Blood banks were set up, medical bills were payed, ambulances were dispatched, protesters were fed and cared for as these organisations took up the responsibility of our so called “leaders”. I would like to use this opportunity to thank The Feminist Coalition for their courage, strength and tactical intelligence as their organisations brought solace to many afflicted individuals and families during this time. We as Nigerians thank you immensely.
Things are still in disarray in Nigeria, but we must not remain silent. It is our duty to keep spreading awareness until justice is served and there is a complete halt to SARS and police brutality in Nigeria as well as acknowledgment of those who have suffered and died. This is just the beginning of a new Nigeria which we pray for with better roads, better education, better healthcare and better governance. The fight is not over and quite frankly it might never be.
If you wish to donate towards general resources including food, water, medical bills and emergency accommodation to those who have been bitterly affected please do so by visiting www.feministcoalition2020.com. All donations are appreciated and The Feminist Coalition clearly state the breakdown of daily expenses in order to remain transparency.
Please spread awareness and stand with Africa in this fight for ALL black lives matter no matter the country one is from. To be silent is to be complicit and the people of Nigeria need all our help.
Written by Chisom Nwanoneze - www.instagram.com/getfitwithchi