Explosive Crossfire Between Citizens and SARS Erupts Across Nigeria

by Skylar Grey ’23

Source: The New York Times

Published Nov. 15th, 2020

In a time of great peril, Nigeria’s revolutionary youth are standing in firm dissent of government SARS groups, which make up a corrupt special police force that defend the archaic values of an outdated Nigerian regime. 

Citizens, now livid, not only used massive protests to block roads and destroy police stations, but also made a firm statement: this generation of Nigerians will, under no circumstance, stand for corruption and police brutality.

SARS, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, was installed in 1984 to subdue an apparent spike in violent crime in Nigeria. However, after a few years of mixed success, citizens began to see a blatant shift in the SARS organizations’ actions and ethics as aggressive attacks on citizens became commonplace.

The situation in Nigeria serves as a severe instance of mismanagement of police funding and training. SARS agents are underfunded and trained to act violently right from their initiation into the police force. Intended to be an institution of public safety, SARS has transformed into a governmental tool for power. 

Despite the Anti-Torture Act of 2017, accusations of excessive SARS violence reached a new peak, with a total of 82 instances of unlawful use of force from January 2017 to May 2020.

With the government continuing to endorse immoral policies and attacks on citizens until the final hours of SARS, protests come as no surprise, especially considering the overwhelming youth of the Nigerian population. Sparked by a viral video of a SARS murder posted on October 3, protesters quickly mobilized both in-person and through an extensive social media presence on Instagram and Twitter, where #EndSARS is becoming a ubiquitous sentiment across the world. 

While these protests are unquestionably necessary for seeking justice, they have only provoked SARS officers to further violence, with numerous protesters being killed and injured throughout October. Due to these protests’ continued threat, a curfew has now been issued, and the military has been given orders to intervene.

President Buhari’s October 12th decision to disband SARS is undoubtedly a step forward. Still, SARS and its officers will likely be rebranded, disguised, and re-dispersed across the police force in new ways. However, it is apparent that protests will continue until Nigerian officials take an authoritative stance on these social issues. 

On a local level, citizens should continue to promote the #endSARS campaign, as it serves as a global reminder of police brutality, violence, and corruption.

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