It has been two years since one of the most poignant protests in Nigeria caught the world's attention, but police brutality rages on.
The hashtag #EndSARSMemorial2 is currently viral on social media as the world remembers the #EndSARS protests, which began in 2020, after young people across Nigeria took to the streets in a days-long protest against incessant police brutality.
The demonstration was aimed at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a department of the police bureau that was accused of heinous crimes, including intimidation, kidnapping, and murder. The #EndSARS protests quickly blew up, drawing the world's attention to what quickly became one of the most poignant and memorable social justice initiatives in recent history. On October 20, 2020, the protests came to a screeching halt after soldiers opened fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki tollgates in Lagos. After the shooting, about 12 people died, and hundreds of others were wounded, according to Amnesty International.
The incident would later go on to be dubbed the "Lekki Massacre," an occurrence that left a dark memory in the minds of many Nigerians and people all over the world. A leaked copy of a report set up by the investigative panel of the Lagos state government concluded last November that the armed forces shot and killed unarmed protesters in what could be considered a "massacre."
Although two years have passed since the #EndSARS protests swept through the country, activists say that nothing has changed, and police brutality is still at an all-time high.
According to an Aljazeera report, there were 164 recorded killings by Nigerian law enforcement personnel between January and September of 2021. The publication also reported that according to Global Rights, a Washington, DC-based human rights group, Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi in southeast Nigeria, reportedly ordered soldiers to beat civil servants for coming late to work.
On Thursday, Amnesty International reported that over 40 protesters from 2020 were still in prisons while panels established to investigate police brutality had failed to deliver justice to victims.
Osai Ojigho, country director of Amnesty International in Nigeria, told Aljazeera that the families of the protesters who were slain and injured two years ago have not yet received compensation or justice.
"Justice is still elusive and more so where representatives of the government continue to dispute the number of dead and injured people at the Lekki tollgate shooting," said Ojigho. Ojigho also said that the situation was dire, and justice needed to happen.
The lack of progress at these #EndSARS panels is discouraging and reveals the authorities’ lack of commitment to ensure justice for victims of police brutality across Nigeria,” said Ojigho.
Today, many Nigerians converged at the Lekki Toll Gate to commemorate the lives of those who lost their lives during the shooting two years ago. According to Barron's, Nigerian police fired tear gas and water cannon at some protesters carrying banners and flags and rallying along the major expressway near Lekki.
Below are some social media reactions
\u201cStill the most touching photo from #LekkiMassacre. May the souls of the departed Rest In Peace. We\u2019ve cried too much as a country. 2023 is the time to smile. #EndSARSMemorial2\u201d— Doct\u00f6r Penking\u2122 \ud83c\udde6\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf3\ud83c\uddec Peter Obi (@Doct\u00f6r Penking\u2122 \ud83c\udde6\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf3\ud83c\uddec Peter Obi) 1666247432
\u201cCowards @policeng! This is what you know how to do best? \n\nTeargas us but you won\u2019t stop us from remembering the people you killed! \n\nWe will still come out every time to show that people didn\u2019t die in vain!\n#EndSARSMemorial2\u201d— Rinu Oduala \ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd2b (@Rinu Oduala \ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd2b) 1666259487
\u201cWe saw evil face to face..\nWe also saw courage, resilience, determination .\nThe lies may travel a hundred times around the track but the truth breasts the tape in the end.\nWe remember..\nWe will never forget..\n\n20: 10: 2020\u270a\ufe0f\u270a\ufe0f\u270a\ufe0f\n#EndSARSMemorial2\u201d— Kate Henshaw (@Kate Henshaw) 1666254614
\u201cThis made me cry. We will never forget \n#EndSARSMemorial2 #LekkiMassacre\u201d— Doct\u00f6r Penking\u2122 \ud83c\udde6\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf3\ud83c\uddec Peter Obi (@Doct\u00f6r Penking\u2122 \ud83c\udde6\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf3\ud83c\uddec Peter Obi) 1666248901