The #EndSARS movement in Nigeria in October 2020 shed a light on the level of police brutality and corruption in the country, and in Africa at large, like never seen before.
Although the movement began with protests in 2017, it received worldwide attention with the #EndSARS hashtag trending for several weeks.
The movement saw thousands of activists come together to demand the demise of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).
Through social media, organisers were able to mobilise huge crowds in Nigerian cities to demand change.
For many of those who held placards, screamed for change and even tweeted to demand change, the protests were a means of getting their voices heard.
The protests and ensuing violence saw 51 civilians, 11 policemen and seven soldiers lose their lives.
Although the Nigerian government said the unit would be dissolved, many greeted the news with scepticism as this is not the first time the government has assured citizens only for the unit to spring up again.
Two months removed from the protests, South West Londoner spoke to some Nigerians for a retrospective look at the protests and why there was a need for them.
David Johnson, 40, Youth counselor and activist – Dublin
“The #EndSARS protests marked the beginning of unity in Nigeria.
“I saw Nigerians from different ethnicities and age groups unite as one for a great cause which was heartwarming for me.
“Nigeria is bleeding and her citizens cried out for help but instead paid dearly with actual bloodshed from the hands of a cold-hearted government.
“There is a major disconnect between the leaders and the youth of the country which is detrimental to the growth and future of the country.
“Unity is key for the much-needed changes to happen in Nigeria and I believe the #EndSARS protests paved the way for a great future.”
Ijeoma Nnadi, 31, Entrepreneur – Accra
“All these years, we’ve been living a jungle life.
“And because of how strong, industrious smart and business-minded we are, we always seemed to make it work.
“Also, we got so used to making the best out of a demeaning and appealing environment that our leaders did not think they had to stop taking us for fools.
“So yes! In retrospect, it was important we took back our country by making the efforts we made.
“Like everyone else, there’s a limit to what humans can take.
“Thankfully, the protests which started as a move against SARS birthed other demands we deserve.
“We may not be there yet, but at least this generation has caused a long overdue conversation. It is in ours and the future generation’s best interest that we learned to say NO.”
Emmanuel Ndukwe, 27, software engineer – Dublin
“The #EndSARS protests were very important as they shed light on the high rate of brutality by the Nigerian police.
“I believe the protests can be said to have been quite successful, attracting much international support and sparking various actions such as the disbandment of the SARS unit and inauguration of judicial panels to look into the cases of police brutality.
“The protests may not entirely wipe out corruption in the police force overnight.
“However, I believe it’s a big step in the right direction and has indeed awakened the Nigerian youths in the demand for good governance.”
Eva Uche Ogechi, 18, student – Awka
“The movement was started as a result of the many killings of Nigerian youths by the police force and Special Anti Robbery Squad.
“They killed both innocent and guilty individuals.
“Nigerian youths were obviously grieved about having to lose their loved ones. So from one state to the other, the protests were organised to stop the killings and dissolve SARS.
“The citizens of Nigeria are fully aware of their rigid and also created awareness for the government that the opinion of the masses matter.
“At the end, the aim of the protest was achieved.”
Anonymous – Abuja
“Perhaps the intention behind the creation of SARS was noble. Now, they’re a cancer that needed to be cut off.
“They assaulted, maimed kidnapped & killed citizens who refuse to give them money. Their M.O was to pack young Nigerians into their notorious bus and extort them.
“They were a menace.”
You can watch a video of #EndSars protestors in London here.