End SARS Wiki-End SARS Bio
End SARS is a movement against police brutality in Nigeria that has seen daily protests since the beginning of October. The campaign initially called for the disbanding of a brutal police unit known as the Special Anti-Theft Squad (SARS), but the protests now also address important issues in the country, such as immense economic inequality, abuse of government power and corruption.
The movement has gained global attention, especially after the Nigerian army opened fire on protesters on October 20 in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, killing at least 12 according to witnesses and the human rights group Amnesty International. The Lagos state government said only one person was killed, while the Nigerian military called the news about the shooting “fake news.”
SARS Is a Specialized Unit of the Nigerian Police Force Which Became Known for Its Human Rights Abuses & Unlawful Activities
In 1984, the Special Anti-Theft Brigade, or SARS, as it is commonly known, was created in Nigeria in response to the proliferation of violent crime in the country: armed robbery, kidnapping and vehicle theft. While the unit tackled some of these issues early on, as The New York Times noted, it eventually became a corrupt organization responsible for illegal actions and abuses of power.
Amnesty International published a report in June 2020 entitled “It is time to end impunity” in which the organization details “at least 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment and extrajudicial execution by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020 “according to a summary of the report (the full report in PDF is available here). The report found that the victims of SARS brutality were primarily men between the ages of 18 and 35 from “low-income backgrounds and vulnerable groups.” The report stated:
The Most Recent Wave of Protests Began This Month After a Video Went Viral Claiming to Show a Man Dying After Being Shot By SARS Officers
Although the #EndSARS hashtag has been used since 2017 to highlight abuses by the police unit and to call for its disbandment, the End SARS movement gained momentum after a video was posted on social media in early October. The graphic video claimed to show SARS officers fatally shooting a man in the southern state of Delta and soon went viral. The incident was first mentioned on October 3, as noted by the BBC, and it appeared on Twitter user Chinyelugo’s account (see above).
The tweet reads: “SARS just shot and killed a child in Ughelli, Delta State as we speak. In front of the Wetland hotels. They left him for dead on the side of the road and left with the deceased Lexus jeep. I have videos… ”The user then uploaded the video showing who said he was a victim of the SARS shooting. The initial tweet was picked up by social media influencers in Nigeria and the protests began in earnest in the following days, with many people sharing their own stories of violence or corruption experienced at the hands of SARS, as noted by TIME.
Delta Police Command denied the validity of the video after it began to circulate and a spokesperson told Pulse Nigeria in a statement:
The SARS Unit Was Disbanded by the President of Nigeria on October 11 But Protesters Said the Move Wasn’t Enough
Following nationwide protests in Nigeria and calls on social media to end SARS, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced on October 11 that the unit would be disbanded. The statement, posted on the office of the president’s official Twitter account, indicated that the SARS unit would be disbanded immediately and officers would be reassigned.
Buhari also posted a video address on October 12, available above, in which he said dissolving SARS was “only the first step” but added that he did not want the reputation of the police in general to be tarnished due to “a few few rotten eggs. ” “Mohammed Adamu, the police chief, announced the creation of a new unit, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), which would replace SARS.
On October 20, Protests in Lagos Turned Deadly When Witnesses Said Law Enforcement Opened Fire on Protesters
The protests continued after the government’s announcement to disband SARS, and many turned violent. On October 20, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, announced a 24-hour curfew in an attempt to stop the protests. That night there were two shootings in Lagos, in Alausa and the Lekki Toll Gate, during which Amnesty International said that the Nigerian army shot and killed at least 12 peaceful protesters.
The human rights group posted on its website that they conducted an on-the-spot investigation, compiled video images and hospital reports, and interviewed eyewitnesses. He wrote that “between 6:45 pm and 9:00 pm on Tuesday, October 20, the Nigerian army opened fire on thousands of people who peacefully called for good government and an end to police brutality.”
The Movement Has Been Getting Worldwide Support, Especially After the October 20 Protest
The End SARS movement has received support and attention around the world, which only increased after the October 20 shootings. Protests against SARS have also been held globally in solidarity, with some in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, as reported by CTV News.
The United Nations Secretary-General issued a statement calling for an end to police brutality in Nigeria. “It condemns the violent escalation of October 20 in Lagos, which resulted in multiple deaths and caused many injuries,” the statement reads in part. “He expresses his condolences to the bereaved families and wishes the injured a speedy recovery. Call on the Nigerian authorities to investigate these incidents and hold the perpetrators accountable. “