#EndSARS: What’s happening in Nigeria right now, and how you can help
Amnesty International confirmed at least 56 people have been killed in protests
This year has been monumental for worldwide protests against police brutality. Earlier this year the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked protests across the US, before spreading across the globe in the Black Lives Matter movement, and now Nigeria is protesting against their own police brutality problems, in the movement to end SARS.
Celebrities such as Beyoncé, Rihanna and Anthony Joshua have spoken out about SARS who have been accused of shooting and killing peaceful protestors. Amnesty International confirmed, after an on-the-ground investigation, that at least 56 people have been killed in protests.
This is everything you need to know about the ongoing protests in Nigeria to end SARS and everything you can do to help:
What is SARS?
SARS or the “Special Agent Robbery Squad” was set up in 1984 to combat a rise in violent crime which included robbery and kidnapping.
Whilst supporters say it was an initial success, over the years there have been numerous reports of allegations against SARS and earlier this year Amnesty International released a report which documented 82 cases of alleged torture, ill treatment and extra-judicial execution by SARS between January 2017 and May of this year.
One such allegation is that of Miracle, who told Amnesty International that in 2017 he was arrested after being accused of stealing a laptop. He alleged he was then held for 40 days and tortured before being taken to court.
He told Amnesty International: “They started using all manner of items to beat me, including machetes, sticks, inflicting me with all kinds of injuries. One of the officers used an exhaust pipe to hit me on my teeth, breaking my teeth. I was left on that hanger for more than three hours.”
Why did the protests start?
The End SARS movement has been around since 2017 after ongoing concern about the unit’s activities. It was initially successful with Nigeria’s police chief ordering an immediate reorganisation of the unit.
However on 3rd October this year a video went viral of an alleged SARS officer shooting a man during a stop and search. The Nigerian police denied SARS had any involvement. On 8th October protests began across the country including major cities like Laos and Abuja.
What are the protestors’ demands?
There is no leader of the protests and it is mainly young people who are involved who feel they have been “unfairly profiled” by SARS.
However the five main demands the protestors want to achieve that have been circulating on social media are as follows:
1. Immediate release of all arrested protestors.
2. Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families.
3. Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of Police misconduct (within 10 days).
4. In line with police act, psychological evaluation and retaining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be redeployed.
5. Increase Police salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens.
— Aisha Yesufu (@AishaYesufu) October 21, 2020
How has the Nigerian government responded to End Sars?
On 11th October the Nigerian government announced the disbanding of SARS, which is the fourth time an announcement of disbandment has happened.
However protestors feel this is not enough and it has emerged the officers of SARS would be redeployed to other areas of the police force.
Amnesty International’s Osai Ojigho said in a statement it was not enough: “The announcement falls short of demands for accountability and justice for abuses committed by the unit and police in general.”
President Muhammadu Buhari promised to increase salaries of more than 350k police officers, as well as an investigation into the accusations of police brutality.
What happened at the Lekki Toll Gate?
According to reports on the 20th October Nigerian police opened fire on protestors at the Lekki toll gate where protestors have been camped for two weeks.
Amnesty International received reports CCTV cameras at the gate were cut by the government and electricity was cut off in order to hide evidence.
What can you do to help?
Educating yourself on the situation is the first step to take and is easy to learn more by heading to the Instagram accounts endsarsuk and theslacktivists who are providing information on the situation.
In terms of donations, endsars.card.co provides a list of verified donation links as well as recourses on education, protesting information and social media accounts to follow.