(End SARS protest in Nigeria. WARNING: This post contains serious graphic images that may be disturbing to viewers. Viewer discretion is advised!)
What Happened In Lagos – Inside Stories
End SARS protest in Nigeria – The streets of Lagos have seen much chaos in this month than it has seen in many years, as awakened and determined youths of Nigeria have risen to a cause to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and Police brutality towards innocent civilians in Nigeria, a protest now known around the world as End-Sars.
What started out as a peaceful protest has become a nightmare in major states like Lagos state. The youth of Nigeria have been on the street in five different states, day and night, awaiting the authorities of the country to make a move in addressing this issue for the last time. This persistent demand is a result of past failures of the government to curb the appalling situation of constant assaults (extortion, arrests, torture, shooting and, clubbing down), of innocent Nigerian youths by these law enforcement arms.
Just as was with the case of “Black Lives Matter”, the “End SARS” protest in Nigeria has appeared simply a campaign against Police brutality to innocent and unarmed civilians, but overall it equally carries the underpin of larger social issues faced by Nigerians.
How the End Sars Protest Started And What Government Did
There have been previous complaints in past years, as near as 2017, concerning these same issues. However, the brutal murder of an innocent man by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, around the first week of October 2020, triggered End-Sars Protest which started on October 8th, 2020. The youths have been unrelenting since then.
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The Inspector-General of Police announced the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)on October 11th. After which he introduced the SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team. You would have thought that this would calm the protesters down, but they rather continued in their protest. The protest persisted because of the past promises of dissolutions and reformations of the Nigerian armed forces that never really made any difference.
The Beginning Of The Lekki Tollgate Blocking
By Monday, October 12th, the youth had blocked the Lekki tollgates in Lagos State (amidst the blocking of other sensitive areas in the state), shutting down the state’s revenue from that source, in a bid to get the government to listen to them, and swing into action, addressing their concerns.
There was the fear that hoodlums would hijack the protest, and cause mayhem as opposed to the peaceful protest intended. Unfortunately, we saw that this was exactly what happened. Hoodlums took to the street attacking unarmed protesters. Unidentified armed persons had also hurt some of the people who came to deliver food to the protesters. We hear rumors that some of these hoodlums were even paid to carry out violent acts in the midst of the protests. They extorted people, vandalized property, and cars were burned to scrap across the nation.
End SARS protest and The Killings On October 20th, 2020
The protesters resorted to holding the Nigerian flag during their protests. However, holding the flag did not seem to provide them any immunity. The hoodlums, although many appeared dressed in Nigerian army uniforms attacked unarmed innocent protesters. People in big buildings nearby watched harmless protesters getting shut at live, and dying instantly in their cold blood.
Peaceful Protesters Nigerian army shooting in the dark
The government declared an immediate curfew in Lagos State, which the protesters saw as a ploy to shut them down, and therefore defied the curfew order. Armed uniformed men were at the Lekki tollgates at about 7 pm, where the protesters waved the Nigerian flag and sang the national anthem. This was at about on October 20th. Reports have it that they shot at the unarmed civilian protesters, not with water or teargas, but with firearms. Some were hit, while some escaped.
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Eyewitnesses reported that the authorities were able to deny the shootings and killings that happened that night because they turned off the streetlights and CCTV cameras (prior to the shootings) to hamper all evidence. However, individuals were able to get clips of this evidence on their devices.
These killings of fellow protesters have only further enraged the youth. They are more resistant than ever, damning the consequences.
What The Protesting Youth Want
So far, the president and government of Nigeria are yet to give the youth a tangible response to their demands. The youth protesting on the streets of different states of Nigeria, with Lagos State in the lead, have been clamoring for this five-item demand from the government:
- Immediate release of all arrested protesters
- Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality, and appropriate compensation for their families
- Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation & prosecution of all reports of police misconduct (within 10 days)
- In line with the new Police Act, psychological evaluation & retraining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be redeployed
- Increase police salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting the lives and property of citizens
The Nigerian youth have demanded that the government check every item on this checklist above, in response to their protest. The government says they are on the matter, but the youth are doubtful. They need to see the evidence.
The Losses So Far
Regrettably, in all this frenzy, so much has been lost. Public property, as well as private property, have been vandalized nationwide, especially in the largest State in Nigeria – Lagos State.
The lives lost are the biggest losses so far. This history-making event has claimed lives and property in different states in Nigeria. It is now in history, that some Nigerian youth lost their lives fighting this cause. The cause for safety and peace with the law enforcement arms of government. For the now, and the future generations of Nigeria.
In addition, Lagos State has lost many of her revenue-generating avenues, and facilities, to hoodlums’ unruly acts like – destroying of the Lekki tollgate, burning commercial buses, TV stations, Commercial Banks, and many more.
Which Way Forward?
On October 22nd, the president of the Republic of Nigeria addressed the protesting youth. He advised that they discontinue the street protests, as it now threatens national security. The president of Nigeria mentioned that the government was preparing to address the concerns of the youth. He also mentioned that they had put projects in place to empower and better the lives of the youth, women, and other vulnerable groups in the country.
The youth have agreed to observe the curfew across the nation, by today, October 23rd. However, they are very unhappy about the statements of the president, which they see as insensitive.
What do you make out of all this? How do you think the Nigerian youth can best get their points across with less casualty? What about foreign intervention- should the Nigerian youth run after foreign powers for support (as in the history), or are they better going at this without? Share your comments below, or email us to get your voice featured.