#ENDSARS Protests in Enugu
The two weeks of protests against police brutality in Nigeria began on Oct. 4, 2020 as a video circulated on social media showing a SARS officer shooting a young man, pushing his dead body out of the car and driving off with the man’s Lexus SUV. The protests took their name from a movement that started in 2017 as a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #ENDSARS to demand the disbanding of the unit by the Nigerian government. Protesters faced violence and intimidation from the government and at least 100 people died across Nigeria at the protest, with an estimated 48 killed on Black Tuesday (20th Oct.) alone. The #ENDSARS protests began with a focus on police brutality especially from the SARS unit of the Nigeria Police Force and police brutality but extended to other dimensions of corruption and human rights violation.
In an article for the Washington Post on the history and contemporary ramifications of the police force in Nigeria, Abosede George wrote:
“Modern policing in what would become Nigeria started in 1861 with the annexation of Lagos by British colonial forces. The colonial governor established an armed police force to “protect” the European-occupied parts of the city from recalcitrant local rulers. […] The pattern of assembling policing forces to protect government over the people, to prey on local communities and suppress dissent continued well into the 20th century. The Aba Women’s War of 1929, the General Strike of 1945 and the Enugu Colliery Strike of 1949 were instances where anti-colonial resistance was met with a quasi-military policing force deployed to subjugate citizens. […]
Police brutality in Nigeria upholds whoever is paying the policing forces — the regime in power. [It] is the common tool that gets turned systematically on the most vulnerable members of society and is used to maintain a variety of systems of inequality and oppression. But the protests against police brutality that have crystallized in 2020 insist that new and just societies in which young people can imagine meaningful futures are still, for the moment, possible.”