Throughout October, the hashtag “#EndSARS” raised major awareness on the current situation in Nigeria. The releasing of a video showing a SARS police officer shooting a young man on Oct. 3 sparked #EndSARS protests. Nigeria, along with other countries, are protesting against the police brutality SARS officers are inflicting upon Nigerian citizens.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was established in 1992. The death of Ridnam, Nigerian Army Colonial, sparked the formation because it was committed by police officers at a checkpoint in Lagos. SARS’ purpose is to deal with crimes associated with robbery, kidnapping, firearms, cattle rustling and motor vehicle theft.
However, SARS has been abusing its power. These officers are now committing acts such as unlawfully arresting, kidnapping, murder, rape and stealing against the citizens they are meant to protect. SARS is also notorious for criminalizing young people because they may drive nice cars, have a laptop, cellphone or even tattoos.
On Oct. 20, a day now known as the Lekki Massacre, Nigerian officers were deployed to a peaceful protest and killed at least 12 people. Prior to that event, tens to thousands of Nigerian citizens protested #EndSARS for over two weeks. Those protests are what pushed awareness out to the rest of the world. The Nigerian government has promised reform but still targeted protesters with violence. According to Amnesty International, 56 people have died across the country since the protests have started.
While this is all occurring, Feminist Coalition, a group founded by 14 young women, have been fundraising to help sustain peaceful protests and the safety of Nigerians. The Feminist Coalition aims to further the rights of Nigeria women while trying to help Nigerian youths amplify their voices and to put an end to the injustices they face.
In the midst of protests, the Nigerian government is trying to put an end to it all. They froze the Feminist Coalition bank account which forced them to turn to Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency innovative payment network. With the hashtag and social media combined, the Feminist Coalition found a way to keep helping and supporting protesters.
The protests in Lagos have decreased since the Lekki Massacre. The protest leaders are asking individuals to stay home but marches are still taking place in other Nigerian states.