The #EndSARS Protesters have vowed not to back down until the government addresses their demand to end police brutality and intimidation carried out by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
They made the vow at the Lagos State House of Assembly in Ikeja on Friday, the third day of protests aimed at ensuring the infamous police unit is scrapped.
One of the protesters, popular comedian Debo Adebayo, said the youths were tired of continued police brutality.
“We are not backing down, we can never back down. Look at everybody here, now I cannot even count the number of people that are here,” he said.
“It is because we are tired. When we came here, we didn’t have five per cent of this number the last time we came here for a protest.
“This is to say that the youths are waking up. While you are waking up, don’t give them another opportunity to shoot us down.
“Don’t give them another excuse to shoot us down. Like I said earlier, we are not here for politics. We are here because we are tired. Enough is enough.”
Speaking further, he asked the protesters to assemble again on Tuesday in the same environment by 9 am, adding that African time wouldn’t be allowed.
SARS Should Be Scrapped
Convener of the protest, Rinu Oduala, on her part, shared an update from a meeting between about 20 of the protesters and members of the Lagos Assembly earlier in the day.
“We gave them our petition which was given to Obasa (the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly) yesterday and we made our stand clear,” she said.
That demand summed up is that SARS must be scrapped.
The meeting with the lawmakers was positive, according to her.
“Most of them agreed in our favour that SARS should be scrapped,” she said. adding that full feedback was expected from the legislators on Monday.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police force was put together to tackle robbery and crimes related to armed robbery within the country, but the unit has repeatedly sparked outrage and gained notoriety for extortion, harassment, torture and killings.
Many rights activists and citizens have lamented that without any legislation or order, the unit has morphed itself into some form of the anti-graft agency, harassing many young Nigerians, especially men who spot dreadlocks and other forms of fancy head styles.
The latest protests against SARS, triggered by yet another controversial incident in Delta on Saturday, went beyond previous efforts as many Nigerians – young and old – took to the streets for more than two days, determined to rid the country of the unit.
In Abuja, Lagos, Imo, Delta, Kwara and several states protests were held, asking the police authorities and the Federal Government to act.
The ban on patrols by SARS officials by the Inspector-General of Police on Sunday and a promise of reform were not enough.
Previous reforms including a name change for the unit to FSARS and back to SARS had not addressed the challenges.
On Friday morning, the youths assembled and chanted solidarity songs. Others continued with ‘END SARS!’ ‘END SARS!’ chants as they demanded an audience of the lawmakers.
The youths decried harassment encountered in the hands of SARS operatives, lamenting the rate at which many young creatives are being battered and killed by trigger-happy police officers.
On Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari met with the Inspector General of Police and directed the police chief to address the concerns of Nigerians.
“The IG already has my firm instructions to conclusively address the concerns of Nigerians regarding these excesses, & ensure erring personnel are brought to justice,” the Nigerian leader added.
“I appeal for patience and calm, even as Nigerians freely exercise their right to peacefully make their views known.”