Now 18 days, Nigerians have taken to various parts of the country to protest against police brutality, extortion, extra-judicial killings perpetrated by the now-defunct police unit, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), social injustices, corruption, and bad leadership.
Indeed, the #EndSARS protests across the country now bullied to a temporary end by President Muhammadu Buhari, due to his inability to have civil conversations with Nigerian youth, opened doors for other issues bedevilling the country to be brought to the fore.
But, while Nigerian youth sit back to understand what next, see 23 notable things from the #EndSARS protest we must all remember…
The Delta State protest: The initial protest was inspired by the video of a man killed by SARS operatives and dragged out of a building. The incident which was said to have happened on October 3 led to the opening of bottled up anger for state residents who took to various parts of the state to protest against extortion and extra-judicial killings. Photos and videos made it’s way to social media and attracted national attention.
The years-long #EndSARS social media outrage: Following video clips and photos from Delta, Nigerians were enraged and took to Twitter to demand justice and an end to the infamous police unit, SARS. It is from here that #EndSARS became a global phenomenon.
Naira Marley’s Instagram Live: Tuesday, 6 October, Nigerian singer, Naira Marley was the first celebrity to call on Nigerians for a street protest. He, however, backed out on the fear of exposing himself and his fans to the coronavirus. The singer later hosted an Instagram Live session with Nigeria Police Force PRO, Frank Mba, in an attempt to calm Nigerians over the uprising that was already brewing from social media.
Celebrities’ support: Although the protest began in Delta over the extra-judicial killing of a young Nigerian by SARS operatives, the protest did not get wide national traction until prominent Nigerians began to speak up about it. Mr Macaroni, Falz, Runtown, Samklef, Kate Henshaw and a host of others added their voices and supported we all take the protests out of social media.
Mr Macaroni’s bravery: Debo Adebayo, alongside Nigerian hero, Savvy Rinu, and a host of other young Nigerian heroes, passed the night, in front of the Lagos government house. And, notwithstanding the opposition from policemen and government forces, they stayed there for all Nigerians.
Other states join the protest: The protest progressed from Delta, Lagos and Abuja and spread beyond with demonstrations in Osogbo, Ilorin, Portharcourt, Kano, Lokoja, and other cities in Nigeria.
International voices: International celebrities joined their voices with the courageous youth. The likes of Adedayo Bamidele Adegboyega, John Boyega, Trey Songz, Big Sean, Estelle, and a host of others.
Killings in Ogbomosho: The protest took a new turn when on October 10, 2020, a protester, Jimoh Isiaka, was shot by a trigger-happy security operative in Ogbomoso, Oyo. Jimoh’s death fuelled the outrage across the country, and protesters continue to demand the prosecution of Jimoh’s killer.
Disbandment of SARS: Following Jimoh’s death, the Inspector General of the police force, Mohammed Adamu, October 11, 2020, announced the dissolution of SARS as they shared five points that come with their new directive.
#5For5: Nigerian youth doubled down on the IGP’s five points to demand five points to be met before they stop protesting. The quick dissolution of the unit was not new and protesters played on this knowledge to demand a total reformation of the entire police system in Nigeria.
Aisha Yesufu (Statue of Liberty): Following a photo of one of the forerunners at the Abuja protest, Aisha Yesufu, Nigerians trended ‘Statue of Liberty’ on Twitter for her bravery in withstanding opposition and attacks by security operatives.
Special Weapons And Tactics, SWAT: In the heat of the protest, police IGP announced the creation of the Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) squad to replace SARS. This was met with heavy criticism from the protesters. The unit was formed, Wednesday, 12 October 2020.
Jack Dorsey endorses #EndSARS: The hashtag #EndSARS was endorsed by Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey and the symbol of a fist with the Nigerian colours.
Beyonce’s silence debated: With many other international acts weighing in on the protest and how the Nigerian government positioned themselves as oppositionists, popular American singer, Beyonce was questioned for remaining silent.
Nigerian Army releases statement: October 15, the Nigerian army released an official statement warning “all subversive elements and troublemakers” and says it “remains highly committed to defending the country and her democracy at all cost”.
#QueerNigerianLivesMatter: As the protest progressed, members of the Nigerian LGBTQ community started a trend on Twitter to identify with the demands of the protest as it concerns them. The trend, however, was frowned upon by some Twitter users who accused the community of attempting to hijack the protest and make it about them.
Pockets of protest hijacked: The protest was alleged to be hijacked by thugs to cause chaos in some parts of the country. In Benin, Edo, there were scores of attacks among which a report that stated that hoodlums freed inmates at a correctional service left state government to impose a 24-hour curfew in the state. In Lagos, Orile police station was set ablaze with some hoodlums allegedly carting away with ammunition from the station’s armoury. Lagos government also declared a 24-hour curfew to stop protests in the state.
A panel of Inquiry: Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo apologised to Nigerians for the slow implementation of the protesters’ demands and requested that state governments begin to set up a judicial panel to investigate cases of police brutality. The Lagos, Ogun, Edo, Kwara, Kaduna State governments swiftly set up panels as part of the demands by the protesters seeking justice for victims of police brutality.
Michael is a dynamic writer who is still exploring the nuances of life and being human. When I’m not writing, I’m out with friends or spending nice time alone watching movies or TV Shows.
Michael is available on Twitter and Instagram @TheMichaelFaya