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7 Notable events that shaped #EndSARS protests nationwide

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The ongoing nationwide protest against police brutality is not the first in the history of the country but remains indelible with the current chain of events and its impacts on all sectors.

The #EndSARS campaign, which seeks a dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has been on since in 2018 but the momentum witnessed in the past 14 days turned things around. Nigerians, both home and abroad, have shared horrendous tales of harassment, extortion, extra-judicial and use of brute force by the notorious police unit on social media platforms.

The protest, staged in major cities of the country, has also attracted supporters across the globe with prominent people lending their voices to the agitations for Police reform.

However, despite the disbandment of SARS and its replacement with the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) squad, Nigerians have refused to leave the streets. Rather, they have continued to agitate for the immediate implementation of some of their demands including the release of protesters arrested nationwide and the prosecution of killer-cops.

As the protest is still ongoing in Lagos, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and major cities in the country, POLITICS NIGERIA highlights seven notable events that have contributed to the protest.

Celebrities’ support

Although the protest began in Delta over the extra-judicial killing of a young man by SARS operatives the protest did not get a national traction until singers, actors, celebrities and other prominent Nigerians began to speak up.

Ayodeji Balogun, a Nigerian singer also known as Wizkid, in a series of tweets, called out President Muhammadu Buhari on the incessant killing of young Nigerians.

“Donald Trump is not your business!
Old man! Police/Sarz still killing
Nigerian youth on a daily! Do something!
Nothing concern u for America!
Face your country!!”

With this, the protest spilled over from Delta state to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial city. Lagosians marched from various places in the city to the Lagos state government house in Alausa. On October 8, protesters led by popular Instagram sensation, Debo Adebayo, also known as Mr Macaroni, passed the night in front of the Lagos state government house.

The protest has spread beyond the boundaries of Lagos with demonstrations in Osogbo, Ilorin, Portharcourt, Kano, Lokoja, and other cities.

Killings in Ogbomosho

The protest took a new dimension on October 10 when a protester, Jimoh Isiaka, was shot by a trigger-happy police operative in Ogbomoso, Oyo state. The killing of Jimoh birthed an outrage across the country, pitting the protesters against government authorities and police officers.

Although the Oyo state government has given the family of the deceased a sum of one million naira, protesters have continued to demand for the prosecution of Jimoh’s killer.

Disbandment of SARS

One would have expected that the dissolution of SARS would have halted the protests, the opposite has been the case.  IGP Mohammad Adamu announced the dissolution of SARS and moves by the government to reform the police on October 11 but rather than putting an end to agitations, Nigerian youths doubled down demanding that all 5 demands they submitted to the government be fulfilled.

It led to another outburst as protesters recalled that a similar announcement had been made in previous years with no changes recorded.

In the heat of the protest, the police boss announced the creation of the Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) squad to replace SARS. This was met with heavy criticisms from the protesters who condemned every attempt to collapse the dissolved structure of SARS into a new outfit.

Pastor Adeboye’s endorsement

Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), backed the protesters and justified the need for protests against police brutality on October 15.The message from Pastor Adeboye, who controls a large congregation of Christians, triggered the support of some Christian Conservatives.

Asides the support of the RCCG pastor, several religious leaders including the Catholic Bishop Conference have drummed support for the youths.

Cyber attacks

An international hacking group, Anonymous, has launched multiple cyber attacks on websites belonging to government agencies in solidarity with the #EndSARS protest. The group compromised the Nigeria police website and hacked into its database to provide sensitive information about the police and some of its operatives.

As a result of the attack, the police website has been offline for a week. Other websites including that of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) were also attacked by the group.

Pockets of hijacks

The protest is being hijacked by hoodlums to cause chaos in some parts of the country. In Osun state, two persons were killed after hoodlums hijacked the protest in the state and attacked the Governor’s convoy.

Also, the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) centre in Benin, Edo state capital was attacked and scores of inmates escaped on October 19. In Lagos state, Orile police station was set ablaze with some hoodlums carting away with ammunition from the station’s armoury.

The governments of Lagos and Edo states have declared a 24-hour curfew to stop protests in the state.

Panel of Inquiry

After the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo apologised to Nigerians for the slow implementation of the protesters’ demands, state governments have begun to set up a judicial panel to investigate cases of police brutality.

The Lagos, Ogun, Edo, Kwara, Kaduna State governments have also set up panels as part of the demands by the protesters seeking justice for victims of police brutality.

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