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#EndSARS: Celebrities Lead Protest Against Police Brutality In Nigeria

#EndSARS: Celebrities Lead Protest Against Police Brutality In Nigeria

end-sars-nigeria-protests-police

For the past two days, there have been protests against police brutality across Nigeria, both on and offline. An arm of the Nigerian Police, the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, better known as SARS, was set up in 1992 to combat the rise of armed robbery incidents in the country. But instead of serving its birth purpose, in the past few years SARS has become increasingly notorious for shooting and harassing Nigerian citizens.

History repeating itself

The name SARS brings an air of discomfort amongst Nigerians. The police division is known for targeting young Nigerians, accusing them of speculative crimes like being online fraudsters––which by the way is not in their (SARS’) job description––mainly based on their appearance and backed by the ‘evidence’ of owning an expensive smartphone or a laptop.  SARS Nigeria protest.

Very often, the victims of this systemic police harassment and illegal arrest are left with no choice to regain their freedom than to resort to paying bribes mainly attained through extortion. Nigerians now view SARS police officers as uniformed robbers who oppress the people they were meant to protect. 

SARS officers are everywhere. They are on the highways, on the streets, in public places and dressed in plain civilian clothing, ready to pounce on any unsuspecting alleged suspect.

The hashtag, #EndSARS

Following two days of protests, #EndSARS has been trending today at number #1 on Twitter in many countries across the world. But what baffled many is that a majority of the mainstream media stations in Nigeria were not covering the protest as of Thursday when the protest officially kicked off in Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city. 

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The newspapers and television stations that eventually covered the protests were seen to be reporting incidences of violence against the police during the protest but not against the citizens who have in fact been harmed by the police in the past few days. 

Several days of protest SARS Nigeria protest.

Protests have been ongoing for the past few days, but this is not the first time a protest with the same hashtag #EndSARS would be trending. The climax of the latest civil unrest across the country was witnessed on Thursday when a police officer in Ughelli, Delta State was killed by an angry mob during protests in the city. 

Every year, in response to protest by youths and well-meaning Nigerians, the government would announce a reform of some sort. Singer Banky W. who never shies away from using his platform to fight for the many causes that affect the average Nigerian was spotted leading a protest group. On Instagram he shared the following message.

View this post on Instagram

Massive shoutout to the incredible people who took part in the peaceful #endsars Protests. I'm extremely proud of you and will continue to voice my support for the positive changes we so desperately need. The frustrating thing about protests is the tendency for a lot of noise to be made, and then things slip back to normal shortly thereafter. Click through the screenshots… you'll see that "they" have "banned SARS stop-and-search" almost every single year, consecutively… 2017, 2018, 2019 and now 2020. It's pretty frustrating to see that even though our leaders always claim that things will change, they tend to stay the same. This isn't meant to discourage people from protesting. Not at all. I have participated in more protests than most people – when Yaradua died and they didn't want to hand over to GEJ, we took to the streets with Enough is Enough. When we got fed up by the power situation, we protested with Light Up Nigeria. When the Chibok girls happened, we protested with #BringBackOurGirls. We even took part in #OccupyNaija – not because fuel subsidy wasn't bad, but because we wanted to seize the moment to shine the light on wasteful spending and corruption in Govt. We've been a part of countless protests, conferences and seminars… however my greatest (and most effective-thus-far) act of protest was going against the status quo in the last election, despite the cost and the odds. I'm now much more inspired/interested in changing the system than stopping at protesting against it. I'd like to encourage us that when the noise dies down, let's join forces to infiltrate and change the system. Let's ALL register to vote. Then let's ALL get into a party as one massive force/block. Let's influence/impact the system from within. The problems in Nigeria are from the top-down, but the solution is from the bottom-up. Let's target the houses of Assembly, the house of Representatives and the Senate. Let's collaborate and target getting like-minds into the system so that we can change it once and for all. So that another year goes by, and they just "audio-ban" SARS again. Systemic, sustainable change is what we need. I hope you're ready for the new move. #TalkAndDo

A post shared by Banky Wellington (@bankywellington) on

Every year, they reform, and every other year, they return. Bigger and stronger, it appears, and ready to extort more young Nigerians. The people are saying enough is enough. This year, they’re not asking for a reformation, their demands are clear and loud. #EndSARS!

Celebrities lead the march

It could be anybody, and so the youths continue to protest. Many celebrities, Nigerians at home and abroad, as well as foreign nationals have lent their voices and their influence to this cause. Both over social media and offline, they are championing protests and using their rather huge platforms to demand for change. 

During a time like this, fans and admirers are thrilled at the show of support and solidarity by their favorite artists, comedians, actors, clergymen, and even businessmen. Donations of many kinds have also been made to support the protesters for whatever way they may need. SARS Nigeria protest

On the first day, we saw top artistes like Tiwa SavageFalz the Bad Guy, Runtown, and Jaywon physically present at the protests. Top media personalities like Toke Makinwa, popular comedian Debo Adebayo AKA Mr. Macaroni, and Big Brother Naija’s Tacha, Prince, and Elozonam were some of the popular faces spotted in the protesting crowds.

On social media, Cardi B, Jessie Woo, John Boyega, DJ Cuppy, Wizkid, and Davido are among the celebrities showing their support for the cause digitally. On the other hand, even after being openly invited by former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore to join earlier planned protests, self-titled ‘African giant’ Burna Boy remained noticeably silent, much to the disapointment of his fans and social media observers at large. Few hours ago––on Saturday, October 10, Burna Boy finally shared an Instagram post in support of the #EndSars movement, which was met with echoes of “what took you so long.” Many have said that a so-called African giant should lead in matters that affect the people.

Many Twitter influencers like Savvy Rinu, Feyikemi Abudu, and Mosopemi have also stepped up to organize and lead the protests to ensure they run smoothly.

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Savvy Rinu

Once again, Nigerians continue to go to great lengths to demand that their voice be heard, regardless of the situation. As the protesters continue to march, reports surfacing over social media shows that they’ve been met with violent resistance from the police and the army in some areas. In Abuja, one of the latest spats of violence was the tear gassing and sporadic shooting at protesters in the city.

Resolution

While we continue to hope for a speedy resolution to the issue, we understand that sustainable change is never a speedy job. Nigerians are committed to continue to march peacefully as many more protests in different parts of the country and the world are being planned. #EndSars Sars Nigeria

Check out more of the virtual SARS protest…

 

Follow the Twitter thread below to keep up with the ongoing protests

Photos: Instagram, Twitter #EndSars Sars Nigeria updated


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