The nationwide demonstrations against Police officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) continue to gain momentum across States. These demonstrations have generated increased conversations on the prevalence of human rights abuses perpetuated by security operatives and the inadequacies of law enforcement agencies to bring the perpetrators of abuses to justice.
On the other hand, issues of inadequate police funding and capacity building are among the underlying factors that account for lack of professionalism and corrupt practices in the security service’s discharge of duties.
The increased agitations by Nigerian youths against SARS brutalities and extra-judicial killings were recently re-ignited by a video shared via social media showcasing a SARS officer assaulting a young Nigerian in Delta State on October 3, 2020. Subsequently, several other pictures and videos of similar assaults and extortion by officers of the SARS resurfaced in the social media with an #EndSARS hashtag created to further amplify the issues in national conversations. This led to uncoordinated protests by youths calling for the dissolution of the SARS and metamorphosed into a national protest since October 8, 2020.
From October 8-16, 2020, twenty-six (26) States out of 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) recorded series of demonstrations in Nigeria11. The States include; Abuja-FCT, Lagos, Enugu,
Ogun, Oyo, Delta, Imo, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Anambra, Kogi, Osun, Kano, River, Plateau, Jigawa, Benue,
Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Adamawa, Abia, Kwara, Borno and Ebonyi States.
Also, Sokoto, Kaduna, Taraba, Katsina, Yobe, Zamfara, Kebbi and Gombe States have protested for the retention of the SARS and its deployment to the North to tackle banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping and other crimes that persist in the States.
Similarly, the protest has gained extensive international support with solidarity protests carried out in London, Dublin and Ireland in the United Kingdom and New York in the United States of America on October 11, 2020; Toronto in Canada and Berlin in Germany on October 12, 2020; Nigeria High Commission in Accra, Ghana on October 13, 2020; and the Nigerian Embassy in Johannesburg in South Africa on October 15, 2020, as monitored by WANEP12 .
Source: West Africa Network for Peacebuilding