EndSars Protest: 3 Years After, Where Are We?

In Nigeria, the number of police killings has increased over the past twenty years.
According to Human Rights Watch, the nation’s police have shot and killed more than 8,000
individuals since 2000, either on purpose or by mistake. According to the World Internal
Security and Police Index in 2016, the nation’s police force was ranked as the “worst in the

In October 2020, young Nigerians started demonstrating against the Special
Anti-Robbery Squad of the police, claiming that they kidnapped, raped, demanded money
from, and harassed people while the government did nothing. The Nigerian army reportedly
murdered and wounded many of these demonstrators in Lagos State in what is later called
#EndSars protest.

The bloody protest which has been followed by a series of criticism from activists in
Nigeria and various international organisations continue to spell woes for hundreds of
thousands of citizens who lost their close ones in the extrajudicial attack. Despite the massive
outcry, the Nigerian government faces off – showing a lackadaisical attitude to the status quo.

In response to the demands of the nationwide EndSARS rallies, Nigerian President
Muhammadu Buhari announced in a speech that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS)
had been disbanded on October 22, 2020. Additionally, he charged that certain SARS
personnel committed “acts of excessive force” when the organisation was in operation.

Then, preparations were made to charge certain former SARS members with murder,
rape, and extortion as well with the using being renamed to Special Weapons And Tactics
(SWAT) unit. The creation of the new team seems a bit premature, according to the Nigeria
Governors’ Forum and this is because many Nigerians had accused the contentious police unit
of engaging in extortion, rape, torture, and murder for a very long time.

These worries include the potential that former SARS personnel may easily join the
brand-new SWAT, in which case the police would have merely given the same group of
individuals—who have brutalised residents over the years—a new moniker. This begs the
question of what the government is doing to decrease the menace and what are the possible
ways out of it.

Human Rights Violation: A Global Phenomenon
According to the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF), human rights “are
standards that recognize and protect the dignity of all human beings. Human rights govern
how individual human beings live in society and with each other, as well as their relationship
with the State and the obligations that the State has towards them.”

The international think-tank added that “human rights law obliges governments to do
some things, and prevents them from doing others. Individuals also have responsibilities: in
using their human rights, they must respect the rights of others. No government, group or
individual person has the right to do anything that violates another’s rights.”

“Like other countries, Nigeria faces myriad human rights challenges. As Nigeria
strives towards a nation that acknowledges the rights of all human beings with strong and
effective national protection systems, UN instruments and the mechanisms they have
established as well as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 sets the
agenda for much of the work,” lamented Edward Kallon, the United Nations Resident and
Humanitarian Coordinator at a programme in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

To corroborate this statement, it is reported that more than 167 countries are guilty of
violating the human rights of its citizens although there are constitutional provisions to
safeguard it. For instance, Nigeria dedicates Chapter Four of her 1999 Constitution to protect
and guarantee only huma rights. Not only, global laws like the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (1948) are worked out to be a cover for liberty worldwide.

What The Ways Out Of This Mess In Nigeria?

Experts have opined that human rights violation can only be stopped if judicial
independence is guaranteed. Independence of the judiciary will ensure that there are
protective laws to help persons whose rights are violated but a hitch in the Nigerian legal
system is the non-implementation of her laws. Despite various laws promulgated by each
government, Nigeria has no implementation strategy for them.

A free press will help to speak against illegalities and impunity by the government. It
is sad to say that press freedom is however not a reality in Nigeria, journalists were attacked
on a daily basis and sanctions were also placed on broadcast outlets. Press freedom will
promote freedom of expression to speak against inhumane violation of liberty of the citizens.

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