Disbanment of SARS in Nigeria

Disbanment+of+SARS+in+Nigeria

Tolu Adewumi, News Editor

Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and is full of life. Of its 200 million residents roughly 60 percent are under the age of 24. According to BBC, former president Olusegun Obasanjo claimed years ago that the youthful population is like “sitting on a keg of gunpowder”. 

Nigerians are full of passion so when a video of a man being killed by SARS agents went viral, millennials were quick to react. The hashtags #ENDSARS and #ENDSARSNOW were trending within days of this incident. 

In such a densely populated country there is no doubt that word spread quickly. In American terms, the population of Nigeria is ten times that of Georgia all in the square footage of a country that is roughly twice the size of California. 

The streets of bustling cities like Lagos and Abuja quickly filled with peaceful protestors who came with loud voices and posters that called for change.

Luckily the call to action spread internationally. There were also protests in the United Kingdom and the United States because there are many Nigerian immigrants in the cities of London, New York, and even Atlanta. 

Unfortunately, there were some people who chose to involve violence which lead the governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to impose a 4 p.m. curfew for all of those in the protesting saying only first responders are excused from this curfew. 

Nigerians had to react quickly because for those who traveled far it would not be feasible to make it home by then. In an unexpected way, this brought unity to the state of Lagos. Many local churches and business happily opened their doors so that protestors could have a safe space to go and spend the night.

But even with this extra help, it was a challenge for 20 million people to find shelter with such short notice. On October 20th soldiers in Lekki opened fire on the protestors who were making their way out. Footage of this went viral on Twitter and Nigerians around the world watched as people scrambled to safety. 

BBC reports that 20 have been injured and at least two have died from what is known as the Lekki Toll Booth Massacre. This devastating event did not deter protestors. People are continuing to use their platforms. Also, there is an emotional video of young people sitting by the toll gate singing the Nigerian national anthem with flashlights glowing and flags waving.

  A picture of the Nigerian flag splattered with blood also has spread internationally representing the blood on the hands of SWAT agents. The flag of Nigeria is divided into three verticle stripes alternating between green and white where the white stripe is in the middle. 

The green represents wealth and the white stripe represents unity and overall peace. Having the blood splattered on the flag is ironic because it shows that Nigeria is not at a place of unity currently. 

The country continues to address these protests by looking into additional reform in the police force in Nigeria. As people continue to use their voices and peacefully protest, the world awaits seeing how Nigeria’s government will improve this time around. 

This year has had many turns but Nigerians are hopeful that this ignition will continue to reform their country.