The #EndSARS which is a decentralized social movement against police brutality in Nigeria and a call for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a controversial unit of the Nigerian Police Force with a long list of brutality and abuses. The unit has been accused of extra-judicial killings, murder, rape, and excessive use of force. The protests started in 2017 as a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #ENDSARS to demand the Federal Government intervention in ending the SARS unit of the Nigerian Police Force. In June 2020, Amnesty International released a report that documented at least 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment and extrajudicial execution by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020.
The recent protest started on Wednesday, 7th October 2020. In similar vein, the #EndSARS protests led by Nigerians took place in several cities across the world including, London, Berlin, New York, Toronto etc.
With the demonstrations against SARS growing in size and mass, the government dissolved the controversial unit on October 11, 2020. Though, this did not quell the protests because of distrust for government and lack of concrete action plan to address the demands.
It is worthy of note that this protest was revived by women and sustained in the most part by women. The active participation of women in this movement is highly commendable. Women have been at the forefront of the peaceful protest. Defying intimidation, women mobilized the initial protesters and was instrumental to the presentation of a 5-point demand that was presented to the government. With women’s courageous and inspirational participation is an evidence that women can successfully be part of and coordinate strong movement for a social change.
Although the protests at some point was hijacked by hoodlums who turned it into looting and violence which the END SARS movement has since denied. It is worthy of note that during the peaceful protest women marched on the streets and worked behind the scenes, showing extra-ordinary leadership skills. This has come to demonstrate that women are strong, courageous, natural leaders and indeed have a major strategic role to play in the leadership and development of Nigeria.