Nigeria Cries: End SARS
By: Hephzibah Kaleem
Since October 2020, the Nigerian public has been demanding an act of humanity from its government: to end SARS. SARS, or the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, was first assembled by the Nigerian government in 1992, to prosecute and detain people involved in violent crimes like armed robbery and kidnapping. However, these efforts to curtail human rights violations had the opposite effect and led to further exacerbation of terror and crime. The SARS unit has been accused of violating human rights by doing illegal searches of residencies, sexually assaulting women, performing illegal arrests and unsanctioned killings, and tormenting young male Nigerians without reason.
In 2017, this led to swarms of peaceful protesters coming to the streets of Nigeria to advocate for those experiencing the bulk of the dehumanizing actions of SARS. This effort to end SARS also gained a lot of support on social media in the form of the trending hashtag #ENDSARS.
Another glimpse at the horrors experienced by the public of Nigeria at the hands of SARS was shared on Twitter on October 3rd and went viral. The video showed a young Nigerian man getting shot to death by SARS officials outside of a hotel after they took the man’s vehicle. This caused public and social media outcry, as #ENDSARS began trending once again.
On October 8th hundreds of nationwide protests and social media campaigns began ushering the Nigerian government to end SARS. Just as these protests started, news of SARS killing a promising musician named Daniel Chibuike was released. Chibuike was sitting outside of a hotel with a friend when SARS officials approached them, asking them to leave. Eye-witnesses reported that the SARS official “pursued” the two, shouting “thief” before shooting Chibuike and arresting his friend.
The prompt brutalizing of innocent Nigerians led to a lot of outrage and caused more protests led predominantly by Nigerian youth, as well as activists and celebrities. Police tried to stop these protests by throwing teargas, water cannons, and even shooting unarmed and peaceful protesters.
Fortunately, Nigerian police announced the disbandment of the SARS unit. The Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari promised that the end of SARS is just the beginning to a total reform of the police system. Although this was met with great skepticism, the world is still hopeful that the cruel reign of this brutal police unit comes to an end.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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