Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images

Two Years After #EndSARS, Nigerians Say Nothing Has Changed

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


LÁOLÚ Channels Gods On Earth In Latest Project 'Time To Heal'

The Nigerian artist's NFT collab with Djimon Hounsou runs from November 10th to 15th and urges us to recognize the past, celebrate the present, and project a future drenched in our rich African history.

Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Láolú's latest project is one centered around the beauty and grace of the human body. The visual art series, titled Time To Heal, consists of five unique portraits featuring Academy Award-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou as a canvas onto which Láolú applied his famous body art known as the "Sacred Art of the Orí". The body designs have been featured in many of Láolú's exhibitions; as well as on Dj Tunez's "Energy" single cover; the artwork for US personality Charlamagne Tha God's Tha God's Honest Truth show; and more.

Time To Heal looks at the artist paint Yoruba patterns and symbols related to alertness, compassion, and the quest for freedom onto Djimon's head, right hand, and left shoulder. The outcome is a bright image of the actor as an African Warrior of Light. (In a press release, the Beninese-American actor says, "I feel this compelling need, this inherent obligation to give back to my continent, to my people, and to champion the idea of reconciliation and reconnection.") The artwork series will be sold in a premium auction on the Binance NFT Marketplace between November 10 and 15, 2021, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Djimon Hounsou Foundation.

The visual artwork comes to the world as the artist's debut in the NFT market. An NFT, (Non-Fungible Token) is a piece of art that is stored as a unique digital file hosted on a server and then sold through encrypted blockchains.The NFT's are acquired through auctions (sold in cryptocurrency) and the highest bidder is crowned as the owner of the "one-of-one" piece.

In this project, Láolú manifests his beloved 'Sacred Art of Ori' through Djimon's body, but asks viewers to look at the artwork and ask themselves, "What would I look like as a God?" The series focuses on empowering young Africans to honor their heritage, as well as bringing them closer to the history and stories of gods and goddesses from Yoruba mythology. "You're not just looking at art on the walls of a museum", he says, "You are the museum. You are the art, you embody it."

We spoke with the Brooklyn-based artist about his come-up, his ability to stay present and true to himself, and taking his designs to space.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity

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