#SARSMUSTEND: A Faceless Protest and Their Fight To End Police Brutality

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Over the last few days, we’ve been covering the #ENDSARS protest in Nigeria. The peaceful protest as a way for young Nigerians to raise their voices against the issue of police brutality and the failure of the President repeatedly turning a blind eye to the outcry of young people all over the country. Nigerian youths have become even more outraged by the senseless killings of at least 10 Nigerians and maltreatment of peaceful protesters across the country in the last few days by the Nigerian police the very thing they are protesting against.

It is therefore essential to state that the message and demand are clear and Nigerian Youths are not settling for anything else. The protest has continued across the streets of Nigeria, with even more violent occurrences happening in several parts of the country. 8 people have been reported dead in Ogbomoso, Ogun State including a 10-Year-Old boy yesterday, and 2 confirmed dead in Surulere, Lagos State today.

For the first time since the start of the protest, the President addressed the country publicly, on the morning of Monday, 12th of October, The Governor of Lagos State also visited protesters at the Lekki-Ikoyi gate where protesters have locked up movement from 4:00 A.M in the morning, (a major source of revenue for the state) but Youths are no backing down.

Both haven’t said a concrete plan of how the police will be reformed and are still maneuvering around absolutely ending SARS and bringing the officers who’ve killed innocent civilians to trial. Instead, both the President and Lagos State Governor have been running social media propagandas making them look like saints.

During the weekend, the Nigerian Government announced that they have disbanded the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, and moved members of this police unit to other units in the police force. Though this might be a very tiny first step, it doesn’t actually solve the problem especially when you carefully read part 2 & 3 of the statement which essentially says – ‘instead of disbanding the SARS unit, they’ll be getting transferred and to expect ‘rebranded SARS divison’ in the near future’. The solutions did not sit well with Nigerian youths, as changing the Uniforms of persons does not change the person or their character.

What the youths are calling for is better accountability from the President. Here are the demands from as of today:

  1. Direct address from the President, stating the exact strategic steps been taken.
  2. Release of all protestors who are currently held in custody.
  3. A top-down structural reform of the entire Nigerian Police Form.
  4. An assurance that all ex-SARS officials who have committed crimes punishable by the law to be held accountable.
  5. SARS operatives to hand over their Identification Cards, and state-given ammunition with proof
  6. Immediate resignation of the of IGP based on their inability to prevent violence against civilians by the Police during peaceful #ENDSARS protests.
  7. Justice for the family of the victims who have been affected one way or the other by Police brutality in the country.

Latest Happenings!

On Sunday, the 11th of October, 2020. Nigerian celebrities such as Wizkid, Runtown, Teni, Phyno, Don Jazzy, and Olamide joined the Nationwide protest and used their influence for a good cause to speak against Police Brutality in the country. The IGP invited a Nigerian musician, DavidO for a closed-door meeting. A meeting that involved other celebrities such as D-banj (one who uses police to intimidate others too) Segalink, Mercy Eke, Korede Bello, and some others. But the Youths are saying this protest has no leader and this is very essential to the progress of the protests. They are clamoring that any meeting that should be held should be opened door meetings with journalists and they should be able to know what is going on.

Why The Protest Must Remain Faceless

Around the world there has been a spring off of protests happening without leaders, leaderless protests movements have drawn thousand of people to the streets. From Hong Kong and Chile to Iraq and Lebanon, and now we are seeing this in Nigeria. People have utilized social media to whip up spontaneous, mostly nonviolent grassroots demonstrations against their respective governments—efforts they have vowed to sustain until all their demands are met.

https://twitter.com/mrmacarronii/status/1315723886768553984?s=20

The success of these protests can be attributed in large part to social media, which has enabled participants to communicate and organize in a more decentralized way.

This revolution does not need ahead, it needs a body and soul and we have that and that is all that matters, they cannot stop us now, the power is with the citizens we elected the officials, they should work for us.

What Bayo, one of the peaceful protesters in Surulere who gave only his name had to say.

There are no doubts that leaderless protests are more difficult to repress and many would attribute the longevity of the #EndSars Protests to this. Often times, leaders of protesters in the country are often picked up and arrested on the first day of the protest causing the protest to end, but this has no leader.

Social media has allowed protesters to bypass the top to bottom leadership ladder, a movement you may call Clicktivism. For some others, the leaderless nature of the protest remains the essence of it and the only reason they participate in it says Tayo. After all, appointing leaders makes it easier for governments “to focus on them, to pick them off, to arrest them, kill them, denigrate them,

You will still have a core group of several dozen or more people who will provide a lot of direction, but the rhetoric is very much against the emergence of traditional power structures,” says Tim Hardy, author of the UK-based blog Beyond Clicktivism.”

Nevertheless, it is important to note that the lack of leaders may aggravate violence and tension as we have seen in recent times when protesters have no one to provide direction on how to confront the authorities. In a decentralized system instead, there are the numbers to call for medical aids, judicial aid, and financial aid during the protest (we have kept their names and numbers away from this article to protect their safety)

A Consensual Agreement

For a faceless protest to be successful it is essential that everyone understands the goal of the protest and they work by it. A general consensus about what they seek is essential especially for the future so there is accountability and organisation when the authority doesn’t do as they say.

This is why it’s important for us all to know why we’re out there fighting, to get educated with the demands and changes we seek from the government and the police force to keep us all connected and unified in our collective fight against oppression.

It is essential that for solutions to exist it takes both sides to make this work but as long as the Police keep using forceful actions and brutality in a protest against police brutality, there doesn’t seem to be an end to this.

For many protesters, across the country the mindset is simple: We won’t stop until all our demands are met. They are calling for reformation, a Revolution, a Better country and that is not too much to ask.

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