#EndSARS refers to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a Nigerian police unit of which many officers have been accused of various crimes including extortion, harmful profiling and, most shockingly, torture and extrajudicial killings. Amnesty International published a report in June of this year in which they cite 82 cases of “torture, ill treatment and extra-judicial execution” by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020. In none of those cases, they add, was a SARS member punished by higher authorities.
Footballers are showing support for the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria in numbers.
It followed reports on Tuesday that Nigerian military opened fire on citizens attending an #EndSars demonstration in Lagos. They add that since the most recent #EndSars protests began on October 8th, “At least 56 people have died across the country since the protest began, with victims including protesters and people allegedly hired by the authorities to confront the protesters.”
Odion Ighalo posted a video message to social media in which he called the Nigerian government “a shame to the world. “Sending the military to kill unarmed protesters because they are protesting for their own rights? It’s uncalled for. I’m calling the UK government and all the leaders in the world to see what is going on in Nigeria and help the poor citizens. The government are killing their own citizens. We are calling you guys in the United Nations to see to this matter. I want to tell my brothers and sisters back home to remain safe, be indoor and please don’t come out because the government are killers and they will keep killing if the world doesn’t talk about this,” he added.
Victor Osimhen, Napoli’s record signing, displayed the message ‘End Police Brutality In Nigeria’ on a shirt after scoring his first goal for his new club on Saturday.
Non-Nigerian players like Marcus Rashford and Tammy Abraham have shown solidarity since the protests began, as well.
John Boyega and Rihanna have expressed grief over recent events while highlighting the movement.
Nigerian historian Toyin Falola wrote “Now that SARS has been ‘disbanded,’ and its personnel is to be scattered among other police units, the protests continue in pursuance of the aspirations for a deeper commitment to an end to police brutality and not a mere repackaging and rebranding.”
While some, like Ighalo, have called for UN intervention, others have highlighted the dangers of outside interference, instead proposing support for grassroots organisations and the amplification of messages such as #EndSars.
Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020
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