The #EndSARS Movement: Why Police Brutality Is Everyone’s Business
Growing up, my family and I would take extensive road trips from Lagos to the east, and back during the Christmas break. It was a long, long journey only broken up by food stops and police checkpoints. And I remember that with all the tales of kidnapping and highway robbery, those stops, albeit time consuming, was some sort of consolation that the big policemen in black where there to check on us.
Now, looking back at it from my not-5-years-old-anymore point of view, were they doing their job or just there to take the occasional press-into-palm bills?
These days, the Nigerian police have turned their attention away from crime and to everyday youths just trying to get by; profiling young people based on dressing, hairstyle and even gadgets. For some reason, they can’t fathom or wrap it around their heads that the internet is a global market and you don’t have to sit in an office and be a desk clerk before you are considered employed. A video even surfaced where a well ranked Police officer said “Social media is for the criminally minded individual”. We will come for that Analogue analogy later.
Right now, we must know that this is everybody’s fight. Because this extortion, manhandling, robbery and even killing of innocent youths and civilians affects everyone. Regardless of social class , gender, or even the popular one, appearance.
This is the time for change
Our country seems like it has not belonged to us in a long time. We feel like we are just residents. Having no say, no opinion, no measure of worth. But this protests and movement can be the beginning of a revolution for Nigerians. If our parents didn’t do much, the onus is on us to do better. To get angry and stay angry. If this fight outlived the generations before us, small steps like this will ensure that it will not outlive us.
A social reform may seem small but has big impact
It may seem like the protesters are not getting through or getting the answers that they want immediately. But believe me, things are happening, conversations are being had in high places and even if they pretend they they are not listening, they surely are.
It could be someone you know
A woman recounted her encounter with one of these SARS officials. She was heavily pregnant and the officer held a gun to her head while he told her to drive to the ATM and withdraw 10,000 Naira. He then told her to drive him back to his post. It’s absurd but it’s true and a lot more have happened.
Even if your plan is to emigrate to the diaspora, you will always have people back here that you care about. Do it for them. Do it for your kids that will want to know where they are from.
What to do
If you can be at the peaceful protests, then please show up.
Stay safe and hydrated. Wear a mask, eat before coming out and come with the energy.
If not, join the simple but powerful social media protests. Post about it, repost, retweet, tag necessary handles so that they can hear our voice.
Our future depends on it.