Thursday, February 22, 2024

#EndSARS: Protest spreads as Nigerians prepare to shutdown D.C., New York, others

Protests to end the brutal and corrupt police squad have been gaining momentum within and outside Nigeria over the past week.

• October 9, 2020
#EndSARs Protesters
Photo of #EndSARs Protesters used to illustrate this story (Photo Credit: Guardian)

Nigerians are setting off a series of demonstrations in major cities across the world to demand an urgent dissolution of a brutal police squad that has been deemed responsible for years of abuses.

The protests will be held simultaneously in New York, Washington D.C. and other cities.

Abdulaziz Bakare and Bola Adams, organisers of the D.C., and New York protests, respectively, told Peoples Gazette the protests are being coordinated to show solidarity with Nigerians at home, who want the police special anti-robbery squad, SARS, liquidated for its years of brutality. 

The protests in New York will be held at the Nigerian Consulate while the meeting point for the D.C. leg is the International Court neighbourhood, organisers said.

The squad, established in the 1990s to combat violent crimes, has over the past decade become a spectre of extra-judicial murders, armed robbery, blackmail and extortion — all of which were largely targeted at the nation’s youth.

Last week, police Inspector-General Muhammed Adamu said he understood the campaigners’ demand, and even announced fresh guidelines on personnel conduct

Citizens and rights groups, including Amnesty International, however, said the measures announced by the police leadership were suspicious and insufficient.

The campaigners and some federal lawmakers, including Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and member Akin Alabi, want the police to yield first to their demand and scrap the SARS unit, then institute another squad to combat worsening insecurity. This week, Lagos, Abuja, Delta, Benin among others saw protracted protests demanding immediate end to police brutality in the country.

Yesterday, Peoples Gazette reported the harassment of protesters by police in Lagos, Benin, and Delta.

Abdulaziz Bakare: SARs has been a scourge to many Nigerians especially we the Young ones for a long time and each time we express our sadness at their actions, we are met with tone deaf auto response that it will be reformed. We are gone past that stage now and it needs to end.

 The Government must rise up to the occasion and for once, listen to Nigerians. Nigerians have suffered in every aspect of governance and all we are asking for now is SARs to stop killing and maiming us. For us in the diaspora, it does not matter if we don’t face SARs everyday, we have brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers back home who do and when we come home, we are not immune to the menace of this rouge unit. 

That is why we are joining our compatriots all over the world by marching to the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC on Sunday to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and to demand that SARS be scrapped forthwith!

“SARS has been a scourge to many Nigerians especially the young ones for a long time and each time we express our sadness at their actions, we are met with tone deaf auto response that it will be reformed,” Mr. Bakare said in a statement to the Gazette.

“We are past that stage now and it needs to end,” Mr. Bakare said. “The government must rise up to the occasion and for once, listen to Nigerians.” 

Mr. Bakare said it does not matter that Nigerians overseas are not facing the brutality of SARS operatives. 

But “we have brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers back home who do, and when we come home, we are not immune to the menace of this rouge unit.” 

In New York, Ms. Adams said the protests have been long overdue. 
“We are tired, Nigerians are tired. Police brutality in a populous Black nation is totally uncalled for,” Ms. Adams said in a statement to the Gazette Friday evening. “These are people who enjoy benefits from taxpayers and in turn do nothing but contribute to harassment, robbery, and intimidation of its citizens.” 

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