Everything to Know about the Protests in Nigeria and How You Can Help

Everything to Know about the Protests in Nigeria and How You Can Help

Everything to Know about the Protests in Nigeria and How You Can Help

Here's what #EndSARS signifies.

Here's what #EndSARS signifies.

Text: Juliana Bakumenko

Over the past couple of weeks, you may have seen hints of the hashtag #EndSARS here or there on social media. Now, over the past couple of days, you’ve most likely seen it more frequently, spreading across socials with the meaning behind the hashtag and how to help.

We’ve compiled everything you should know about what’s going on in Nigeria and the meaning behind #EndSARS, along with what we can do to take action.

At the start of October, a grassroots movement against police brutality in Nigeria took to the streets to protest the nation’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad. But of course, this isn’t a new issue. Activists first started the #EndSARS hashtag in 2017, in protest of the federal police unit’s long history of brutality and corruption.

SARS has been around for a few decades in Nigeria, a unit of the Nigerian Police Force that is supposed to protect the citizens in violent instances including kidnapping and theft. Unfortunately, SARS officials have been abusing their powers for years, harassing and extorting Nigerian people with no consequences to their actions. Since 2014, Amnesty International has been tracking human rights violations by SARS, which have escalated due to a lack of training and a lack of accountability.

Protestors are calling for the abolishment of the SARS unit, hoping to reform the police structure as a whole and hold police accountable for their actions while properly compensating victims and their families.  Though the movement initially started as a protest against SARS, it has widened to become a call for a change of the entire Nigerian police system.

The recent #EndSARS protests were ignited following a video spreading of a SARS officer shooting a young man, leading people to share their own instances of police brutality across social media. These protests have been met with even more police brutality and suppression, with officers firing teargas at protestors and forcing them to disperse. The Nigerian government itself has pledged to hold officers accountable and investigate the unit further, but seeing as SARS has already been banned four times, protestors need the total dissolution of SARS.

On October 20th, Nigerian police opened fired on a group of protestors camping out at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos. While it’s unclear exactly how many people were killed and injured, at least 56 people have died during the protests since they began, and Amnesty International believes about 38 were killed across the country on October 20th alone.

Image by Temilade Adelaja

These increasing tensions between the Nigerian people and the abusive forces meant to protect them has sparked international outrage.

If you’re in Nigeria and you’re able to protest or provide support for those protesting, please consider joining the fight against police brutality. For those of us not currently in Nigeria, End SARS protests are also taking place in other major cities and neighboring countries, so be on the lookout for anything in your area that you can help out with.

There’s been a lack of international news coverage on the End SARS protests and instances of police brutality as of late, so call your local news and insist on them reporting on this major human rights issue.

Spreading awareness for this movement is an easy way to help amplify the voices of Nigerian protestors. Share #EndSARS and #EndSARSNow hashtags on your social media, and share any helpful information that you may come across regarding the Nigerian protests and the End SARS movement. Sharing information will help educate others on the situation and can also be helpful for protestors. It’s important to stay educated on what’s going on, and if there are any updated ways in which you can help.

Rihanna, Missy Elliot, Rina Sawayama, and many more have showed their support on social media, sharing the End SARS hashtag to raise awareness. Beyoncé has partnered with youth organizations to support those protesting by providing emergency healthcare, shelter, and food. On Beyonce.com, you can find a list of organizations to support and donate to.

Some of the best ways to help are by amplifying the voices of those protesting in Nigeria and supporting their abilities to keep up the fight and achieve the change we need.

You can contact Nigerian officials in the US and abroad to call for an end to the SARS unit. 

Here’s a list of places that you can donate to in order to support the efforts of the #EndSARS movement.

Endsars.carrd.co has an incredibly useful selection of information as well as ways to support.

Donate: The Feminist Coalition 

Donate: The Kapital Plug

Donate: GoFundMe 

Donate: Diasporans Against SARS

Donate: Assata Collective 

Donate: Project Protect

Credits: Lead Image by Temilade Adelaja

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