Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The police force that residents of Nigeria have been protesting against for years now. What exactly caused the protests, and why has it started to receive so much attention in the media recently?
The police force that goes by the name of SARS aimed to tackle violent crimes like kidnappings and robberies was introduced back in 1992. However, members of this police unit have been widely accused of abusing their power and abusing the human rights of millions, by carrying out such acts of torture, extortion and extrajudicial killings.
Throughout the most recent protests across cities in Nigeria, we have witnessed just how violent this police force has become and how they completely disregard the human rights of those living within the West African country. Proving to be evident across social media platforms, users continue to upload footage of shootings and other violent acts carried out against protestors, young people in particular are amongst the most affected by these acts of violence. Reports suggest that a significant number of protestors have been shot dead or severely injured as a result.
Further to the scenes across Nigeria, the BBC sat down with the man responsible for setting up the police unit, Fulani Kwajafa. Speaking to Mr Kwajafa, he talked about the sadness and the guilt he now feels after what the agency has become. Although remorseful, this does not change what has happened, and it is now on world leaders to step in and do the right thing to protect the people of Nigeria.
Now, what amazes me about this whole story is that it only came to my attention in the past few weeks, following the video showing SARS officers shooting a man in the streets of Nigeria and of course the hashtag #EndSARS which has spread across social media and started a global movement. This just goes to show that so much is happening around the world with many of us being completely unaware. So, maybe we all should go out of our way to see what’s really going on outside our communities and see what we can do to help those who are victims of this broken system.
Many have come forward and have used their platforms to speak out on the current crisis, to raise awareness and to pile the pressure on those responsible.
We mentioned earlier that young people, in particular, have been affected by the corruption within this police unit. It is no secret that young men and women of Nigeria are living in constant fear, fear of violence, and becoming a victim to the system.
The young people of Nigeria have come together in several protests in recent weeks, demanding for change within the police force as a whole, a complete reform we desperately need. We do hope that the Government will listen and act on these protests, and contribute to making society a better place for the next generation.
We can all play a part in this movement and contribute to the reform that is needed, by signing petitions or even effectively use social media to raise awareness and keeping the movement relevant.
So, to the people of Nigeria, stay blessed and look out for one another.