Protesters chant slogan songs during a protest to commemorate one year anniversary of #EndSars, a protest against a military attack on protesters at Lekki tollgate in Lagos, Nigeria, on October 20, 2021.

Protesters chant slogan songs during a protest to commemorate one year anniversary of #EndSars, a protest against a military attack on protesters at Lekki tollgate in Lagos, Nigeria, on October 20, 2021.

Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto.

#EndSars Tops Social Media Hashtags on 3rd Anniversary of Lekki Tollgate Shooting

Three years on from the #EndSARS movement, there are still unanswered questions and advocates searching for justice.

The #EndSars hashtag has once again surged to the forefront of social media conversations in Nigeria, marking the third anniversary of the infamous shooting incident at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos. On this solemn occasion, Nigerians are reflecting on the two-week-long protests that saw tens of thousands of young people taking to the streets to denounce police brutality. The protests were sparked by a viral video allegedly showing the killing of a man by the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The initial #EndSars protests in October 2020 culminated in a violent crackdown in which dozens of civilians lost their lives. While the government disbanded SARS in response to the protests, instances of police brutality persist in Nigeria. Shockingly, three years after the violent suppression of nationwide #EndSARS protests, at least fifteen protesters arrested in 2020 remain arbitrarily detained, with the majority of them still awaiting trial in Kirikiri Medium Correctional Centre and Ikoyi Medium Security Correctional Centre in Lagos.

The detained protesters face a barrage of trumped-up charges, including theft, arson, possession of unlawful firearms, and murder, some alleging torture during their detention. Isa Sanusi, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, expressed concern, stating, "Our investigation reveals the Nigerian authorities' utter disregard for human rights. Three years in detention without trial is a travesty of justice, demonstrating the authorities' contempt for due process. The protesters must be immediately and unconditionally released."

Amnesty International is advocating for the release of 15 individuals who continue to be detained for their involvement in the 2020 protests. The human rights organization contends that many of these detainees have not yet been brought to trial and are facing unsubstantiated charges. The names of these individuals are as follows: Daniel Joy-Igbo, Sodiq Adigun, Sunday Okoro, Olumide Fatai, Oluwole Isa, Shehu Anas, Akiniran Oyetakin, Segun Adeniyi, Onuorah Odih, Jeremiah Lucky, GideonIkwujomah, Irinyemi Olorunwanbe, Quadri Azeez, Olamide Lekan Sadiq Riliwan.

On the third anniversary of the #EndSARS protest, Nigerian skitmaker Adebowale Adedeyo, widely known as Mr. Macaroni, joined fellow Nigerians in gathering at Lekki Tollgate in Lagos to honor those who lost their lives during the tragic events of October 20, 2020. However, a significant police presence was observed at the tollgate, with Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Idowu Owohunwa, and other high-ranking police officers also in attendance.

As activists, including comedian Adebowale David, prepared for a peaceful walk to commemorate the occasion, a spokesperson for the Lagos Police Command, Benjamin Hundeyin, issued a warning. Hundeyin declared that no gatherings or convergences near the tollgate would be permitted, emphasizing that police presence would be maintained to ensure participant safety, provided they did not obstruct traffic.

Hundeyin reiterated the police's commitment to securing the peaceful walk while maintaining traffic flow. The Lagos State Police Command had previously issued a stern warning against any gatherings at the Lekki tollgate.

Amid a surge of public outrage over police brutality, extrajudicial killings, extortion, and the misuse of authority by Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) officers, the #EndSARS movement emerged, initially compelling the federal government to disband SARS. However, what began as a peaceful protest gradually descended into violence, as certain individuals seized the opportunity to target police stations, public facilities, and both law enforcement officers and civilians. Tragically, the protests culminated in a somber chapter on October 20 when the Nigerian Army intervened, leading to the shooting and injury of numerous young demonstrators.

As we mark the third anniversary of the #EndSarsMemorial, it becomes apparent that numerous inquiries remain unresolved. The Nigerian government's persistent denial of responsibility for the Lekki Toll Gate shooting is a profound injustice. This incident prompted Nigerian youth to utilize social media, particularly Twitter, to implore the Federal Government to eradicate this scourge. The EndSARS Panel, commissioned by the Lagos State Government, determined that security forces deliberately discharged both blank and live ammunition into the midst of the protesters, with a clear intention to inflict harm, maim, and kill. As we contemplate these occurrences, the lingering unanswered queries concerning #EndSARS loom large, underscoring the urgent need for accountability and justice for the victims.