What is EndSARS?. All about the EndSARS protest, the killings in Nigeria. What to bring/wear to a protest
It’s currently a crazy time for Nigerians. In all honesty, for the first time in my existence, I have seen unity amongst Nigerians like never before. It makes me hopeful that our fight will not be in vain, and one day, Nigeria will be just as great as the countries we are smitten by.
What is really happening in Nigeria?
On October 8 2020, nation-wide protests on END SARS(Special Anti-Robbery Squad) began in Nigeria, following the video which started trending on social media of a SARS officer who shot a young Nigerian infront of Wetland Hotel, Ughelli, Delta state and also took his vehicle. The protests were led by angry and exhausted young Nigerians all over the country.
The Nigerian youths are asking for the government to put an end to SARS; not reform, not redeploy. We’re also asking for the reformation of the police force.
Infact, the protest has taken many tags, such as: #endbadgovernanceinNigeria, #endpolicebrutality, #reform the police, etc. Nigerian youths are coming for everything, it’s about time!
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad is a unit of the Nigerian police force, with an age long record of abuses. SARS officers are guilty of profiling young Nigerians based on their outfits, extort youths for driving flashy cars and question them on the use of iphones and other expensive gadgets. Even going ahead to seize it from them and arresting them.
They mount illegal road blocks and searches, rape women, kill innocent Nigerians, arrest without warrant, with a host of other inhumane acts. This has gone on for so long.
The first protest started in 2017 as the youths took to the streets and on social media to protest against police brutality with thesame hashtag #EndSARS. Despite the protests and cries of Nigerians for the total disbandment of SARS, what was done was an ineffective reformation of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. The killings, the illegal arrests, the extortion, the rape of women continued.
But after the sad death of the young Nigerian in Ughelli, Delta state on the 3rd of October in which nothing was done about, a few days later, Nigerians decided “Our mumu don do” (our silence and cowardice are over).
The protests have been carried out both online (with over 30 million tweets) and on the streets of cities and states within and outside Nigeria, by concerned citizens. The Nigerian police has frequently disrupted the peaceful protests in various cities in Nigeria, throwing teargas and shooting at unarmed peaceful protesters.
This act has led to the death of innocent protesters like Jimoh Isiaq and many others.
On Sunday, 11th October 2020, the Inspector-General of police Mohammed Adamu announced the dissolution of SARS. The announcement left Nigerians feeling sour, when it was discovered that the plan was to reassign these SARS officers to other police departments rather than eliminate them entirely from the force.
Another criticism of the announcement was the fact that over the years, similar promises had been made, yet nothing happened. Things even got worse. And so, the protests continued. On the same day, protesters put up five demands to be met by the federal government of Nigeria. These demands were a response to the Inspector generals announcement. They include:
. Immediate release of all arrested protesters
. Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families
. Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct (within 10 days)
. In line with the new Police Act, psychological evaluation & retaining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS officers before they can be redeployed.
. Increase police salary so that they are adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens.
On Tuesday, 13th October 2020, the public relations officer of the Nigerian police force; Frank Mba, announced the setting up of a Special Weapon and Tactics Team(SWAT) to replace SARS, saying the officers will undergo psychological and medical evaluation to determine their fitness. This move by the government, was both hilarious and infuriating to Nigerians.
This is because all the government is doing is changing the name; like a rebrand, meaning SWAT is really still SARS. Also, none of the officers who had committed atrocities towards citizens had been sacked. Nigerian citizens gave SWAT their own thing interpretation; Sars With Another Title, and still insisted that it all be scrapped out. No SARS or SWAT.
On the 13th of October, Femi Adesina the presidential spokesperson, indicated that the Nigerian government has agreed to the five demands of the End SARS protesters. The Nigerian youths insisted again that their actions should speak louder than their words. Because soothing promises like this had been made countless times in the past. And so the protests continues, until the demands are fully met!.
Peaceful protesters were being attacked in places like Lagos, Abuja, by hoodlums, leaving youths injured and a few dead.
On October 20th, 2020 ‘a day to be forever remember in Nigeria’ the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, declared a 24 hour curfew due to the violent escalations in Lagos, which was to be effective from 4:00pm, but was later extended to 9:00pm. During this time, the CCTV cameras at Lekki Toll gate were put off. A few hours later, armed men of the Nigerian army arrived at the scene of the peaceful protest and opened fire on the unarmed protesters, killing over 30 people, with a legion of injured person’s.
The governor of Lagos State while addressing the incident said that there were no casualties from the shootings, but later tweeted that there had been reports of one casualty. This left many Nigerians raged as it was callous and wicked for the Governor to make such a statement after all that had happened. It was a clear mockery of the situation, as live recordings of the killings were seen by Nigerians.
The October 20th incident, deepened the resolve of many Nigerians, as some youths took to burning down establishment owned by Bola Tinubu, the house of the mother of the Governor of Lagos state. This was so because Nigerians strongly believed they were linked to the Lekki Massacre.
The president of Nigeria on the 22nd of October, addressed the Nation in a 12 minutes clip. In this clip, he sternly warned the youths to desists from carrying on the protests or face the wrath of the law. He eluded speaking about the Lekki Massacre and other salient issues that have taken place during this period, making light of the entire situation. This left Nigerians exasperated, as it was only right that the president spoke meaningfully about the issues which troubled the citizens, and proffer solutions.
This act by the president was an eye opener to the fact that we indeed have only ourselves. Many Nigerians felt disappointed and exhausted. Still, Nigerians have decided that the country will be great by all means possible. Right now, states in the country have taken a break from protesting, following the threats by the government and the curfew imposed on many states. Although, even with the curfew, hoodlums continue to cause havoc in various states, discrediting the peaceful protests carried out by other Nigerians.
States are restrategizing, planning on more effective ways to provoke a revolution, social media is still very much an effective tool. Who knows? The protests might continue. Infact, it is very likely that it will. But for now, it is unsafe to go on the streets.
The tag ‘EndSARS’ is right now a generic name for the many changes Nigerians seek; a complete revolution. Which includes: good schools and infrastructure, good roads, job opportunities, and an end to all forms of corruption.
As a Nigerian, my prayer is that we do not relent in our fight for freedom, for a corruption-free nation. My wish is that our fight and the blood of the victims which were shed, shall not be invain.
WHAT TO BRING/WEAR TO A PROTEST
Sunglasses/hats: Anything to shield you from the sun!. Also, this can help in protecting your identity, you will be less recognized with these items. Sunglasses especially, prevents your eyes from the effects of tear gas. In a protest, this will likely happen.
Suitable clothes: Wear clothes that wouldn’t at all be a burden to you on the protest ground. Would you be comfortable in that tight-fitting top or shirt? Don’t think about it. Just don’t wear it, you want to be free. Sweaters also, should be taken out of the clothing list when the weather is hot. Gladly, there’s been less rain recently. Sadly too it’s been extremely sunny, coupled with the heat brought about by so many people being clamped together, it’s horrifying.
Sweaters/raincoats are really just those clothing you should put in your backpack as an extra cloth incase it rains or gets cold, it’s not for a hot weather!. It’s also advisable to wear long sleeves and trousers, preferably denim. That way, if you trip and fall, you wouldn’t be bruised. Also, with alot of people around, people are bound to sweat, with long sleeves your skin wouldn’t directly come in contact with other people’s sweat.
Comfortable shoes: This! You’re going to either be walking long distances or standing for a long time, possibly running too. You have to wear shoes you can do this in. A comfortable shoe is it! for this purpose. Sneakers are great to wear for protests. They’re soft and comfortable. They feel like a soothing part of you, unlike hard, sturdy shoes. Closed-toed flat shoes are also comfortable to walk and run in, during protests.
Please do not wear heels! I’ve been to a few protests and each time, I see a few people wearing heels. I really want to ask whether they’re doing good?. You might be great at wearing heels for a long period of time, but protests are a different ball game. Trust me, you don’t want to bring them along. Those people may have survived it, but you may not.
Snacks/water: First of all, please eat before leaving the house. Don’t leave on an empty stomach, with the hope that you will eat outside, don’t bank on that. Also, take your own snacks or food with you. It’s a guarantee that you will not be hungry during the protest. Your water! Bring atleast two bottles or one big bottle of water with you. You will likely be more thirsty than hungry. Water revitalizes your strength. The End SARS protests have been amazing, as food is shared atleast twice a day. Even if you’re going to bank on this, eat before leaving the house.
Cash: No matter how little it is, take some money with you. Something important might come up, you do not want to be stranded. You always want to know you have money on you.
Phone/Camera: This is so important. These videos and pictures are important for documentation and historical purposes. You can sit at home and watch videos of live protests because they are been recorded. People and countries get the help that is needed through these pictures, videos, it says alot. It’s the digital era! news definitely flys faster through technology. I know phones can put you at great risk, because your movement can be easily tracked. And so it is advised you get a burner phone (temporary phone, that can be thrown way) or even with your own phone, download and use encrypted apps e.g Signal, for communication rather than the text messages apps on your phone, which can give you out. You can also download VPN, this hides your activity by encrypting your connection. Lastly, turn off your phone, except it’s necessary to use it
Power bank: If you’re bringing your phone, you might as well take a power bank along. Your phone will need to stay on. If you wouldn’t make use of it, other protesters might. A protest is about unity.
Backpack: A backpack with two hands is really the best for a protest, as it keeps you comfortable, without the stress of switching shoulders due to aches. Your backpack should contain everything you will need for the protest. It should be big enough to fit in everything that is important for this purpose. Your hands should be free of carrying anything asides your placard, to feel less burdened.
Protest signs: You can make your own protest signs before leaving the house. All you need is a cardboard and a marker. On it, you write words that send a message, words that resonates with the aim of the protest.
Protective masks: Nope! do not come out saying there is no covid-19 anymore. You want to be safe, as well as the people around you. Try to wear face masks all the time, during the protest. Try to observe the covid-19 rules throughout the protest. Let’s all stay healthy to protest.
Hand sanitizer: Again! covid-19 rules. I really believe hand sanitizers are necessary for all protests covid-19 or not. But it is very much recommended during these times. Like it or not, your hands will come in contact with things and people that you will normally not touch. I have read that an effective hand sanitizer contains 60% and above alcohol. So yes people, that’s what we should all be using.
Handkerchief/face towel: If you aren’t the type to sweat atall during a protest, I’d like to be like you!. A handkerchief or face towel is so important. Using your hands to wipe out the sweat from your face is not a good look, it would make the people around you feel unsafe. A face towel is preferable as it absorbs more sweat than a handkerchief will. Being able to clean off sweat from your face makes you personally, feel safe and relaxed.
ID card: Have a form of identification. Be it a student ID, national ID etc. It might just be helpful if you are being harassed or detained by authorities.
Other very important items to carry along are: torchlight; to help with direction at night. An Inhaler, if you are asthmatic. A first aid box; incase anyone sustains an injury and needs to be treated immediately. Baking soda and water mixture; this helps to reduce the effect of tear gas.
Stay safe people!
*What do you think about today’s thought? What contributions do you have? Are you for or against the ongoing revolution? Do you believe in a greater Nigeria? How has your mental health being, in these times? Let’s talk!