Background of the Study
#EndSARS began as a call for the disbandment of Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian Police Force known for its brutality and breaches of human rights. The hashtag was first used in 2018 to raise awareness about allegations of SARS officials’ violence and exploitation (End Swat, 2020). SARS’ structure was changed by the government, but claimed human rights breaches and exploitation continued. SARS personnel shot a youngster in the streets of Delta State without provocation in October 2020, according to social media accounts (Jacob Olatunji, 2019). Despite the fact that the Nigerian Police Department denied the shooting in this case, public outrage grew as more footage of police shootings were disseminated. However, in light of the government’s earlier comments, this action was insufficient to pacify the demonstrators. Following repeated accusations of harassment, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) confirmed in December 2017 that SARS had been barred from conducting stop and search operations. The IGP re-announced the prohibition publicly in 2018 and 2020, citing the ineffectiveness of prior rulings. Similarly, Nigeria’s acting president declared in 2018 that SARS would be overhauled, with the National Human Rights Commission investigating incidents of abuse. This was quickly followed by the declaration of a centralized FSARS (Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad) under the control of the Inspector General of Police, as opposed to the previous version, which was under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General.