The #EndSars protests which has spread to almost all states in Nigeria came after weeks of outcry online from young people in the country over claims of harassment, rape, killings and extortion by the police unit Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS). Demonstrations continued even after the inspector general of police announced Sunday that the unit was being disbanded and its officers redeployed
The Inspector-General Mohammed Adamu announced on Sunday 11th October 2020 that the group had been scrapped, and announced the setting up of a new outfit known as Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) yesterday, to take over from the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigerian Police Force.
But protesters rejected the announcement, as many see the changes as not enough to reform the police. Protests continued in Lagos, Abuja and Kwara on Monday, with young Nigerians saying they would continue to take to the streets until the entire police force was reformed.
“This is just the beginning!! We won our fight to #ENDSARS .. now Reform the Nigerian police!! #Endpolice brutality! We deserve good governance! #Endpolicebrutality,” Wizkid tweeted Sunday.
Abayomi Akinbo, who participated in protests in the Nigerian capital Abuja, agreed. “It is not enough to end that unit and redeploy them to other places,” he told CNN. “What we want is for the unit to end, and an investigation into the conduct of the SARS unit to be conducted.”
Akinbo added that officers should be trained on how to engage with citizens to minimize the brutality they inflict on people.
Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, joined the campaign on Thursday against police brutality in Nigeria by calling for donations via Bitcoin in support of the movement.
Over the weekend, Nigerian’s diaspora community also organized protests to support the campaign. On Sunday, #EndSARS protests took place in Canada, England, Germany and the United States.
Fakhriyyah Hashim, one of the protesters in London, told CNN that the aim of the protest was to encourage the diaspora community in England to financially support protesters in Nigeria so that they can keep their protests running.
Afrobeat stars Wizkid (real name Ayodeji Balogun) and Mr Eazi (real name Oluwatosin Ajibade) also attended the London protest
Feminist Coalition, one of the leading bodies in the campaign against police brutality in Nigeria announced on Wednesday that it has raised over N62 million in crowdfunding for the protest which is aimed at supporting protesters. The fundsare to be used in their continued supply of first aid, masks, bail, hospital bills, food, water, glucose for protesters and also for the provision of legal aid to protestors, who have been arrested on the frontline.
The recent figure indicates an addition of N31 million in four days, up by 487.8% from its last figure on October 10, 2020 which stood at N6,354,561.27.
In President Muhammadu Buhari address to Nigerians in a video on Monday, he said that the disbandment of SARS “is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reform.”
He added that every police officer responsible for wrongful acts would be brought to justice.
The government on Thursday has also banned protests in the capital Abuja, citing public safety measures to tackle Covid-19. But protester in Abuja plan to go on with their peaceful protest to make their lawful demands as citizens.