Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), has remained under staunch criticism since its inception in 1991, due to its long-standing reputation of police brutality, corruption, torture, and other human rights violations.
Nigerian citizens have banded together to form the #EndSARS movement, a call for the government to disband the organization. Numerous electronic musicians have voiced their support for the movement, which has taken to the streets of Nigeria’s capital, Lagos, to demonstrate after video surfaced of a SARS unit dragging two men from a hotel building and shooting them in the street.
As of October 20th, SARS is also responsible for the deaths of at least 12 protesters. SARS officers “were firing and they were advancing straight at us,” one protester told the BBC. “It was chaos. Somebody got hit straight beside me and he died on the spot.”
DJ Switch (real name Obianuju Catherine Udeh) was present at Tuesday’s protest and live streamed her experience via Instagram. “This is beyond SARS right now,” she said. “I’m not trying to instigate anyone, but I’m telling you that it hasn’t reached boiling point.”
Udeh accused the Nigerian government of discrediting protesters and called for their resignation. “We need young, innovative thinkers as our leaders,” she said.
Nigerian native Burna Boy (real name Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu) has also been particularly vocal about the #EndSARS movement. In early October, he launched PROJECTPROJECT to aid and provide financial and legal resources to protesters. Though Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari announced the dissolution of SARS on October 11th, Ogulu remains skeptical.
“My greatest concern in all of this is that SARS will end now as it allegedly has multiple times (I recall giving calls to end SARS during my USA tour in April 2019) and morph into a different entity down the line with a different form or a different name,” said Ogulu. “In my opinion, abolishing the unit is a definite first step, but we cannot stop there.”
A fundraiser has been started by Diasporans Against SARS to support victims of police brutality and civil unrest. More information on that fundraiser can be found here.
Image credit: DJ Switch