While the globe is battling SARS the virus, our African brothers and sisters in Nigeria are battling SARS the social pandemic.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was a branch of the Nigeria Police Force under the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID). It was founded in 1992.
Nigerians have taken to the streets to protest against the corruption and neglect of this “police force”. They are being condemned for acts of brutal crimes involving murder, rape, and kidnappings.
A video of a SARS officer shooting a man in the head and driving off in the Delta state served as a catalyst for this series of protests. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari appeared on television and gave his support to disband SARS and this is the only public statement we’ve seen from him.
A new unit has been created- SWAT and they plan to initiate training on police conduct and use of force by the international committee of Red Cross, however, some fear officers from SARS will just blend in with SWAT and no actual accountability will be had.
On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, live rounds were fired by security forces at gathered protestors at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos. The following day Amnesty International confirmed that at least 12 people were killed.
Cabinet members and military officials have expressed their disdain for the protests and claim that it is getting political and anarchist.
Around the world, individuals such as Kanye West and even Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden have used their platforms to speak out on the injustices going on in the west African country.
This fight of police brutality around the world is deeper than the flames that ignite it to burn. Regardless of motives that are rooted in racism, sexism, homophobia, or classism, we must protect ourselves and our communities by demanding justice and basic human rights. No one deserves to be mistreated by the very people put in place to protect us.