What SARS Really Means for Nigerians


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Image Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54662986

Isabella Chavez, COLUMNIST

   We’ve seen it all too often…the rallying outcries of individuals protesting against injustices with police brutality. Against the ill-treatment and severe persecution that incessantly comes from the abusive and vulgar government. Among the latest disparities occurring around the world, are the ongoing protests in the country of Nigeria.  

     Along the western coast of Africa, citizens in Nigeria have flooded onto the streets to express and address the mandatory actions that need to be taken in anticipation of the misruling of powerful authorities within their region. 

     It upsets me just hearing about the battle Nigeria and its citizens have to face in order to safely survive. It definitely puts into perspective how many hardships that are omnipresent throughout the world. For Nigeria, this is one of the most upsetting events in their history. The fate of the country and its people lie on others, amplifying Nigerian voices to be heard everywhere and as well as standing as an ally for them in what seems like a never-ending fight.

   Protesters and demonstrators are rioting against a group called SARS, or The Special Anti-Robbery Squad. SARS was first established in 1992 in efforts to “combat armed robbery and other serious crimes” (alijazeera.com). The #ENDSARS movement has greatly spiked amidst these protests. The hashtag first started in 2017 after civilians began to first-hand experience how rouge this police force had become after the treatment they carried out onto the people they swore to “protect.” 

     Since 2016, violent accounts of injustices and grievances have created rage and discomfort within the Nigerian community. Abuse of power, lack of accountability, and complete corruption had made it evidently clear that SARS is doing much more harm to their citizens, than any good. So far 82 cases of torture, unadulterated punishments, and extrajudicial executions have occurred from officers within SARS (amnesty.org). Many are beginning to express that Nigeria’s government’s nonperformance on addressing this widespread problem demonstrates complete negligence for the basic human rights of its citizens.

     The police force operated anonymously with members roaming the streets in unmarked vehicles and plain clothing. On October 20th, SARS opened fire and killed 12 unarmed protestors in Lagos. The severity of SARS harassment and brutality only continues.

     I most definitely believe that everyone needs to speak up about this and help strengthen the voices of Nigerian people. What’s happening in Nigeria isn’t something we should disregard. These are lives we are talking about. Countless lives that are being lost every day. 

     President Buhari of Nigeria has issued several statements informing civilians to remain “patient” for police reform but has yet to “directly refer to the shootings” (bbc.com). As of right now, SARS has been dissolved. However, civilians are not satisfied with these unavailing announcements and promises that they constantly hear. Nigerians are continuing to protest for more significant changes in their country’s security forces.

     All of us as individuals have a way that we can help. Spreading awareness is one of the most powerful ways to extend the length of information for others. Lending your voice, using the momentum of your words, and constantly posting about this ongoing situation in Nigeria reminds people that this is a world issue that needs desperate attention. I give credence to the fact that staying informed on Nigeria’s battle with its government ensures that crucial information and facts become known to the public. Below are numerous links to get involved and get informed. If possible, please donate and sign government petitions. Aim to assist in any way you can and don’t stay silent about this!