End Special Anti-Robbery Squad (End SARS) or #EndSARS is a social movement in Nigeria that started on Twitter calling for banning of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit of the Nigerian Police Force.
#ENDSARS is a call to end police oppression, killing and brutality in Nigeria. The protests started as a social media campaign using the hashtag #ENDSARS to demand for Nigeria’s government to scrap and end the deployment of Nigeria Police Force Special Anti-Robbery Squad, popularly known as SARS. Within a weekend (9-11 October 2020), the #ENDSARS hashtag had up to 28 million tweets. Nigerians have shared both stories and video evidence of how members of SARS engaged in kidnapping, murder, theft, rape, torture, unlawful arrests, high-handedness, humiliation, unlawful detention, extrajudicial killings, and extortion.
SARS officers profile youths largely based on appearance; mount illegal road blocks, stop and search, arrest without warrant, rape women, extort young Nigerians for driving exotic vehicles and using iPhones. While some claimed victory as the Nigerian Police Force dissolved the Special Anti-Robbery Squad on Sunday, 11 October 2020, others noted similar promises had been made in recent years and the government planned to reassign SARS officers rather than eliminate them entirely. The government has continued to repress protests with lethal force despite the announcement.
#ENDSARS Protest Escalation In October 2020
On Saturday 3 October 2020, a video started trending on social media showing a SARS police officer shoot a young Nigerian in front of Wetland Hotel, Ughelli, Delta State. It was alleged that the police officers took away the young man’s vehicle – a Lexus SUV. The trending video caused public outcry on social media, especially on twitter, with the #ENDSARS hashtag attending.
On Thursday 8 October 2020, nation-wide protests on ENDSARS started after weeks of outcry and anger with videos and pictures showing police brutality, harassment and extortion in Nigeria. The protests were led predominantly by young Nigerians in different cities alongside many activists and celebrities. Nigeria Police Force disrupted the protests in some cities, throwing teargas and shooting at unarmed peaceful protesters as seen in Abuja and Osun, this led to the death of Jimoh Isiaq in Oyo. By Wednesday, 14 October 2020, the End SARS protests were still ongoing with young people in different parts of Nigeria intensifying their calls for reforms and accountability in police operations.