Over the years, many young Nigerians have been victims of false allegations, extortion and (or) brutality in the hands of the country’s infamous police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), who often target upwardly mobile Nigerians like ‘Mary’ (real name withheld).
Mary, a fitness trainer who lives in Lagos, Nigeria, was on the road with her girl friends when they were stopped and harassed by 5 policemen who then accused them of being prostitutes. “They were threatening to plant a gun in my bag and send me to jail if we didn’t pay them N10,000 ($26) for them to forget the case which we [eventually] paid”, Mary said.
Tasked with the duty to fight robbery and crime, and protect the lives and property of citizens, ongoing reports from numerous victims, like Mary, indicate that SARS has become a menace to the Nigerian society with a long trail of injustice and abuse. After a video revealing extra judicial killings and brutality went viral, it fuelled an outrage that got Nigerians, including celebrities, religious and civil organizations, protesting en masse for days in Nigeria and the UK for an end to police brutality and the total dissolution of SARS. This comes amid the country’s efforts to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
The #EndSARS protests were successful, the Nigerian government listened and on Oct. 11, 2020, the inspector-general of police (IGP), announced the immediate disbandment of SARS nationwide, promising to prosecute defaulters and reform the police.
But it is not over yet until young Nigerians can live free from tyranny and oppression. The primary role of the state is to protect its citizens — and there should be no basis for deprivation of liberty or life, inhumane treatment, or torture. We must send a clear message: stand up for human rights and #EndPoliceBrutality for good — and the world is watching.
True peace requires standing up for the human rights of all the world’s people and together, we can achieve more. Take a moment to send a tweet now telling Nigerian leaders that we are counting on them to put an end to all acts of police brutality and human rights violations for good ― in the name of peace for all.