It all started with a hashtag online… And many of us thought it would end there.. So did our leaders.
The #Endsars movement which started on twitter last week has shown us the power of community and what can happen when we put aside our differences and speak in one voice.
In one week( 9th-11oct) there were over 28million tweets on the endsars campaign.
These tweets showed how widespread of a menace the unit(SARS) had become and how deeply the corruption had eaten into the Police system.
Every young Nigerian either knows or has had a personal experience with SARS or been on the receiving end of police brutality due to profiling.
Video evidence and corroborated stories that made the rounds through the years reached a tipping point on the 10th of october when the peaceful protest to scrap the now defunct Special Anti Robbery Squad. Each story of police brutality is as chilling as the next and the more you read, watch and hear these stories, the more heart wrenching it becomes
Cases of young men and women who are supposed to be protected being harassed at gunpoint and asked to send huge sums of money for their release became a norm and each new case brought about cries for the unit to be disbanded. Despite declarations in 2017, 2018 and 2019 nothing to that effect was done.
Online and offline campaigns have been the lifeblood of these movements, Mainly using twitter and Whatsapp Young Nigerians have congregated in large numbers in a peaceful demonstration all around major cities in the country.
Important figures, celebrities (in Nigeria and around the world) and world news media like CNN and BBC have covered the protest.
On Wednesday, the CEO of twitter (Jack) endorsed his support for the end of police brutality and shared a link to aid donation to the feminist.co. Thursday Night saw the release of the #ENDSARS emoji after twitter temporarily crashed for a few minutes.
Premier league footballers, Hip hop stars like Trey songz, Kanye and P.diddy have also used their handles to tweet in support.
Big media voices CNN has reported that the world is watching while Nigeria carries out it’s police reforms.
Al Jazeera and New York Times have all been asked to show the rest of the world what is happening as young Nigerians believe that would make the government act and be accountable.
Why the Protest Is Working…
Similar to the Black lives Matter movement in the west, this protest is a decentralized one as there are no leaders or followers. Everyone matters and everyone has an equal right.
Previous political strikes by Unions such as ASUU, NLC to name a few fail or are brought to a premature end once the “leaders” of these unions agree to “negotiate” and are appeased ( your guess is as good as mine).
Political leaders from the Federal to the State government have been unable to resolve this crisis as there is no “one to negotiate” and the only thing peaceful protesters want is action on the part of the government.
The bright sides of the protest…
The disbandment of the rogue sars unit as announced by the Nigerian Police inspector on the 14th of october 2020 is one of the many victories that this movement has achieved.
However calls for the disbanded SARS officials to be put in new Units have been met with continued protest as Nigerians see this as putting corrupt police officials in new units would not solve the problem.
Nigerians are calling for an end to the impunity of the unit and all officers past and present who have been accused should be made to face the full extent of the law and be investigated for human right violations.
Protesters feel this would make the police force more accountable if public examples are made of the past and present errant officers.
Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing means the protests are being funded in cash and logistics by Nigerians pulling their resources together home and abroad.
Skills and funds have gone into providing food and water for protesters, Lawyers led by the Moe Odele have been representing cases pro bono and freeing protesters who have been arrested across the countries
“We have over 400 volunteer lawyers on standby today and had a training session for them with was facilitated by a senior advocate of Nigeria and other experienced criminal litigation lawyers,” says Moe Odele
Medical doctors, Ambulances and first aid kits have also been provided across all protest grounds.
In cases where protesters have been assaulted, injured or had personal items damaged, funds have been made available from which hospital bills have been paid while private organisations have provided discounts and professional support.
Security measures are being provided across protest grounds that have been attacked by thugs in the past in places such as Uyo and Shagamu for Sundays protest and it is gathered that more would follow.
On the not so bright side..
Protesters are still being met with police brutality, #prosars activist and thugs who are continually being used to disturb peaceful protesters
10 persons have lost their lives since the start of the protes as reported by amnesty international and CNN as at 12th october 2020
Your Voice is being heard..
Everyone is doing something in support of this movement online, offline and in any way they can and you can see the difference this is making already.
So keep tweeting, keep trending the relevant hashtags and keep staying safe while we peacefully protest for a better and safer Nigeria.
We have become a generation that would inspire the change that hopefully future generations would thank us for. It takes you and I to make a better Nigeria
And to Every hero out there supporting the cause, we see and pray for you and for this country that the struggles of today would lead to a brighter tomorrow.
From all of us at StillIrise #ENDSARS #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY #REFORMTHENIGERIANPOLICE #ENDSWAT