Street protests (EndSARS) in Nigeria demanding for the disbandment of a brutal special police unit known as SARS has gained global attention as protesters gathered in South Africa, USA and plans are are on for a London version of the protest on Sunday.
Citizens are lamenting the brutality of the Federal Special Anti – Robbery Squad (FSARS) and have repeatedly called for its disbandment for 5 years now.
Previous protests were mainly done online but a recent event involving a unit of the police and a youth in Ugheli, Delta state, led to street protests across major cities in Nigeria.
The physical protests were backed by online protests using the hash tag #EndSars. #EndSARS have trended top in Nigeria since last week and is now gaining global attention.
#EndSARS trends globally
The nationwide protests gathered momentum beyond Nigeria, with #EndSARS trending on Twitter in the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Canada on Friday.
BBC Africa also reported that the hash tag was the most trending topic online globally.
Celebrities Spearhead Campaigns
Popular Nigerian musicians Davido, Wizkid, Don Jazzy, Rudeboy, Mr P and others have voiced out in support of the protests.
Artistes like Tiwa Savage, Runtown, Falz, Wulrd and DJ Spinal, BBNaija housemates and comedians were on the streets of Lagos to lead their voices against the alleged legal criminal police unit.
Protest Planned for London
Nigerians in the United Kingdom have scheduled an #EndSARS protest in London. The protest scheduled for Sunday has attracted many Nigerian top voices in the UK including British-Nigerian actor, John Boyega and other Nigerians such as the world heavyweight boxing champion, Anthony Joshua.
The Star Wars actor also announced on Twitter that an anti-SARS protest would hold at the Nigeria High Commission in London, the United Kingdom, on Sunday.
Boyega posted an illustration via his handle, @JohnBoyega, showing protesters carrying placards with the inscriptions, “EndSARS, EndPoliceBrutality, and EndSARSProtest.”
“Nigeria High Commission, 9 Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5BX. Closest station in Charing Cross. Sunday, 11th October; 12:00pm,” the actor tweeted about the upcoming protest.
Police Chief Responds, Bans Random Stop and Checks
In reaction to earlier protests, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Abubakar Adamu, on the 4th of October, banned the personnel of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other special units of the police from carrying out routine stop and search.
The police force in a statement signed by PPRO, Frank Mba demanded that all stop and search duties and patrols by SARS be terminated with immediate effect.
The ban did not seem to have effects on the protests as citizens lamented dishonesty from the police saying SARS has been banned four times in the previous years and returned after the ban to continue its brutality on innocent citizens.
Protests Turn Violent in Abuja, Osun and Delta
There was violence in FCT Abuja, Osun and Delta states on Friday as youths carried on the #EndSARS protests on the streets.
In an attempt to disperse the protesters in Osogbo, policemen shot indiscriminately. It was learnt that the protesters put up resistance and pelted the security operatives with stones as the protest caused gridlock at the Ola-Iya junction in the state capital.
The operatives, who initially took cover beside their Armoured Personnel Carriers stationed at the junction, later shot to disperse the angry youths.
In Abuja, security operatives fired tear gas canisters at demonstrators and shot repeatedly. A viral video shows the protesters running helter-skelter.
Eyewitnesses have told the BBC that police have been using tear gas at today’s #EndSARS protest in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
Some of them were heard shouting “they are shooting at us,” “Don’t kill us with teargas,” “You must #EndSARS.”
In Ugheli, Delta state, a police officer, late Corporal Etaga Stanley, was allegedly killed by protesters according to the police. Some protesters were also reportedly shot and injured.
Over eleven young men were arrested and bundled into the trucks; some were forced to lay in awkward positions in the trucks as they sped to the Ughelli Police command.
The Inspector General of Police, (IGP) Mohammed Adamu, who condemned the attacks on policemen, ordered the Delta state Commissioner of Police to investigate the circumstances that led to the killing of a police officer during an #EndSARS protest in Ughelli, Delta state and to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.