Updated: Aug 31, 2022
By Journey Artis
SARS protesters take a picture while holding their signs showing their support for the disbandment of SARS.
Do you know what SARS is and how it is currently affecting Nigeria? If not, it is not necessarily your fault as news outlets, and mainstream media have done a poor job at covering this major issue. SARS stands for Special Anti-Robbery Squad. This is a police unit in Nigeria that has kidnapped, tortured, harassed, and even killed citizens, and protesters against SARS. There have even been records of sexual assault and misconduct on the officer’s part against main females who have been detained through this horrific and absurd form of policing. And something that is even more horrific? SARS targets Nigeria’s youth. Due to SARS kidnapping, torturing, harassing, killing, and bringing harm to Nigeria’s youth, those efforts prove that they are killing off Nigerian’s future, and are doing it knowledgeably. As we know after older generations are long gone, younger generations such as Millennials and Generation Z will be in control. Killing off a population of people who the majority are under 25 years of age robs them of their chance at a better future with these generations leading in the future. However, there is something that we can all do and take part to bring change and end SARS for good.
The #EndSARS movement started in 2017, calling for the disbandment of the SARS police unit. This movement has not only taken to social media but has also taken to the streets of Lagos, which is Nigeria’s largest city. Protesters and supporters call for SARS to be disbanded and for prisoners in captivity to be released. Documents that showed that in the SARS confinement detainees were forced to endure many types of torture forms that include but are not limited to hanging, mock execution, beating, punching, kicking, being burnt with cigarettes, waterboarding (where an individual is strapped down with a bag over their face and water is poured on their face, at a heavy rate, to simulate drowning), almost being suffocated with plastic bags, forced to assume uncomfortable bodily positions, and sexual violence. This has not been the first time that police institutions have abused their right to power, and it will certainly not be the last if we do not call for a change. Victoria Ogunmakinwa, a SOAR freshman says, “ I think SARS will continue to impact Nigeria if it is not disbanded with huge damage to the citizens, probably more than they have done, regarding the Lekki Gates massacre. And when they did end SARS before, they just added another organization called SWAT which did the same thing that SARS is doing right now. So with enough awareness and action, we could get the government to listen and do exactly what the citizens need.” These student’s words justify how for real change to come we have to spread awareness and advocate against SARS and institutions like it. Naomi Eguavoen, a SOAR junior states, “From the beginning SARS should have ended. When the protesting began that is when it should have ended. I am not exactly sure when the Nigerian government will come to their senses, but I hope they realize it soon. You know the Nigerian government is pretty corrupt and there is a lot of bribing as well. Keeping the food away from the Nigerian citizens was one of the worst things that the government could do, because not only did they have Nigerians starving, the food was also spoiling. I just pray that all my cousins and family members and the rest of the Nigerian population will get past this and look for a positive outlook in their future.” Without more efforts from other protestors, media outlets, and the Nigerian government SARS and other corrupt institutions in Nigeria will continue to react havoc in Nigerians lives. Miracle Idowu, a SOAR junior states, “I think before the rest of the world gets involved, it should be taken care of in Nigeria first. “ The Nigerian government needs to take action on this matter, and at least get in the process of having SARS disbanded, and if and when the rest of the world gets more involved they should continue to push for the matter so that the Nigerian government does not fall back.
SARS Protesters showing their support with the signs shown
To support the #EndSARS movement you should first make sure that you are completely aware of what SARS is and why it is detrimental to Nigeria’s health as a nation. Then you should take action. To do this post on your social media accounts, follow other supporters, organize and attend peaceful but powerful protests, and do not hesitate to reach out to others because, when we stand together we become stronger. There is a club on the SOAR Campus called BSU (Black Student Union), that talks about and covers this issue along with many others, and if you are serious about wanting to bring a positive change, it is strongly recommended that you join. You can reach the club president Marcha Daniels at her email, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information. We can fight this, along with many other issues together!