#EndSARS: The Start of a New Beginning


Amirah Razman

 The fight to “End SARS” has been a noteworthy demand throughout the month in Nigeria, with young people at the helms of historic protests to disband Nigeria’s police unit known as SARS (or the Special Anti-Robbery Squad). SARS was initially established in the early 1990s as a way to combat armed robbery within the city of Lagos; however, over the years, SARS has served as the main police force trained to stop criminals. The outrage has been going on since 2017, but have recently resurfaced within the past month. They began operating without proper authority, inciting violence amongst residents of Lagos and carrying out numerous other human rights violations, such as kidnapping.

Since the majority of Nigeria’s population is under the age of 30, young adults were viewed by the government as “lazy”, and were told that they must pursue a job in agriculture. That, along with the vast popularity of technology, is why most of Nigeria’s younger population gets targeted by SARS. Especially in the more urban areas, SARS has committed crimes against those with high-end technology such as laptops or iPhones, citing those with this technology to pose a threat to the country. The constant violence perpetuated by the police force has become the center of widespread protests in Nigeria and around the world. By protesting, Nigerians hope to disband the unit and raise awareness of police brutality. 

On October 20, Nigerian soldiers shot protestors at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, killing at least 12 people. Protestors were congregating at the toll to block off a major highway to promote the End SARS movement, but were met with opposition by soldiers. 

That same night, protestors from many parts of Lagos were attacked by more soldiers and police, who killed an additional 38 people and injured dozens. With the event known as the Lekki Massacre, people turned to social media to stand in solidarity with the Nigerian people and to combat police violence.

Earlier in the month, on October 3, an unarmed man was shot to death near the oil-rich Niger Delta. Both incidents have been the center of recent protests to disband SARS, prompting the government to enact various curfews across the country. 

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has spoken out about the movement, saying that “the disbandment of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reform.” However, many people remain skeptical about these promises, since the Nigerian government has repeatedly vowed for the disbandment of SARS for the past three decades with no promise being held. 

A new police force, known as Special Weapons and Tactics (or SWAT) has been formed with cautious optimism; still, people doubt that SWAT would be better than SARS in terms of how they treat citizens. 

On Twitter, the #EndSARS has been a trending hashtag worldwide, with people voicing their support to end the police unit and others using the hashtag to spread more information about the situation. A movement which has been in the works for several years, the Nigerian people hope to finally disband the police unit which has incited violence against innocent civilians since its charter. People have also taken action by creating websites on the free website maker carrd.co that center on the many ways others can educate themselves and help the cause.