First anniversary of #EndSARS protests against police brutality in Nigeria
It is one year since the historic #ENDSARS protest, a youth-driven anti-police brutality demonstration that shook Nigeria.
The protest, which morphed from social media campaigns into street demonstrations in October 2020, was triggered by the excesses of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a now-disbanded police tactical unit notorious for cruelty against crime suspects.
Although SARS activities and general issues of police brutality, including unlawful arrests, torture, and extrajudicial killings, were at its core, the protest became a platform for demanding government’s decisive action against insecurity, corruption, economic woes and general maladministration blamed for the suffering of the majority of Nigerians and lack of opportunities for the youth.
The five-point demand
Without a central leadership structure coordinating the protests in different parts of the country, the street demonstrations continued with the agitators widening their requests which came down to the five-point demand.
The demands included compensations for the families of those who died under police brutality, the release of arrested protesters and an increase in the salaries and allowances of police officers.
Protesters also demanded that an independent body be set up to investigate allegations of police misconduct and to prosecute those indicted. They also called for the psychological evaluation of officers of the disbanded SARS before they are redeployed into other units.
Proscription of SARS was the primary demand of the protesters – the reason the demonstration was tagged #EndSARS. In response to the fast-spreading protest, the Nigerian government acceded to the request and announced the disbandment of the unit. It also announced the establishment of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to replace SARS.
However, the announcements did not satisfy protesters, who viewed them as just another renaming exercise and vowed to remain on the streets. It was the umpteenth time police authorities had announced the disbandment of the notorious police unit.
Source: Premium Times