Nigerians continue to call upon President Muhammadu Buhari to end police brutality through ongoing countrywide protests. According to Aljazeera, this follows news of a civilian who reportedly died at the hands of the federal security agency Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which subsequently sparked the #EndSARS demonstrations this past week. This is yet another wave of protests since 2017 calling for the complete dissolution of SARS.
After a weekend of protests, the Nigerian government has responded with conflicting statements with regards to the state of SARS. According to BBC News, President Buhari committed to dissolving the alleged rogue unit while the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu,released a public statement on Sunday confirming the disbandment of SARS. While some Nigerians welcomed the news, a similar commitment was made in 2018 but SARS remained active. This appears to be the case once again as one social media user pointed out.
Anecdotal stories of alleged battery, extortion, murder and kidnapping by SARS have caused #EndSARS to trend across Africa and other parts of the world.
SARS was established in 1992 by the Nigerian government in order to combat armed robbery with the "element of surprise" as quoted by the founder Simeon Danladi Midenda. The security agency has been under public scrutiny since 2017 and has been alleged to be a rogue unit that targets Nigerians who come across as rich or "flashy". According to the Washington Post, Nigerian filmmaker Dare Olaitan was pulled over while driving by SARS officials who accused him of speeding. When he requested proof of his alleged speeding, the police officers reportedly slapped him, grabbed his car keys and forced him to withdraw money from an ATM. Similar stories have been trending on Twitter with some more grievous than the last.
Famous Nigerian artists Burna Boy, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Don Jazzy, Fall, Runtown and Wizkid have also joined the protests from their various locations across the world. Davido joined the protests in Nigeria this past Sunday while Burna Boy took to Twitter to share his sentiments on a relief fund he recently set up and to which Sean "Diddy" Combs has reportedly donated. Burna Boy has also funded #EndSARS billboards which have been erected all over the country.
Protest have resumed this morning with demonstrators blocking Lekki toll gate which has led to a lockdown in Lagos.
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Martin Luther King III has appealed to the Nigerian government to respect the rights of #EndSARS protestors in the nation's enduring calls to end police brutality.