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World #EndSARS: Nigeria's young protesters demand real change

19:35  16 october  2020
19:35  16 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

The young protesters who forced a president to back down

  The young protesters who forced a president to back down Nigeria's #EndSARS protests gathered momentum online, but burst onto the streets to force a change.Despite forcing the president to disband the unit, they are not satisfied as they want total police reforms and for officers in the rogue department to face justice.

LAGOS - Dancing, chanting and determined: thousands of young Nigerians are jamming the streets of megacity Lagos to protest against police violence and vent at a society they feel sidelines them. West Africa' s economic hub and beating heart, normally bustling with traffic

Thousands of Nigerians took to the streets last month to protest against the SARS elite police force, which has been accused of killings, extortion and torture. Keywords World in Progress, Nigeria , # EndSARS . Download Save MP3 file.

Dancing, chanting and determined: thousands of young Nigerians are jamming the streets of megacity Lagos to protest against police violence and vent at a society they feel sidelines them.

a crowd of people in a large city: Protesters have gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate, a key junction in and out of the city of 20 million people © Pierre FAVENNEC Protesters have gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate, a key junction in and out of the city of 20 million people

West Africa's economic hub and beating heart, normally bustling with traffic, is at a standstill as demonstrators have occupied major roads day after day since last week.

What to know about Nigeria's #EndSARS protests

  What to know about Nigeria's #EndSARS protests Protests against police violence in Nigeria show no sign of stopping as thousands continue to take to the streets despite announcements of reforms by the government. The demonstrations erupted this month and were initially focused on abolishing the federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), accused of unlawful detention, extortion and extra-judicial killings. But after the government announced the unit would be dissolved, thousands of mainly young protesters have remained out on the streets pushing for genuine change in the country.

For nearly two weeks angry young Nigerians have taken to the streets, blocking major roads across cities in Africa' s most populous nation. They marched in tens of thousands chanting "Enough is Enough" against police brutality and violence.

Protesters are also demanding the release of those arrested at the recent demonstrations, and a requirement that the In New York on Sunday, young protesters gathered in front of the Nigerian Consulate General in Midtown to share their own stories of police brutality while in Nigeria and to

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Protestors can be seen carrying Nigeria's green and white flag in what has become an ongoing festival of contestation © Pierre FAVENNEC Protestors can be seen carrying Nigeria's green and white flag in what has become an ongoing festival of contestation

The gigantic Lekki Toll Gate, a key junction in and out of the city of 20 million people, is the main stage for the ongoing festival of contestation.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: It is Nigeria's entertainers and pop stars, icons whose influence stretches across social classes, rather than politicians who are supporting the movement © Pierre FAVENNEC It is Nigeria's entertainers and pop stars, icons whose influence stretches across social classes, rather than politicians who are supporting the movement

DJs take turns on a makeshift stage in front of a jubilant crowd, while others set up pool tables and hustlers sell soft drinks nearby.

Convertible Mercedes and beaten-up cars park side by side in the middle of the crowd, windows down and pumping music, as onlookers drink beers and raise clenched-fisted salutes.

Death toll climbs as Nigeria protests spiral

  Death toll climbs as Nigeria protests spiral Crowds took to the streets again in Nigeria's largest cities on Monday as the death toll rose in snowballing protests sparked by police brutality. Amnesty International said five people had died since the start of the weekend, taking the overall number of fatalities to 15 since demonstrations against abuses erupted this month. In Lagos, home to 20 million people, thousands of people took to the streets again on Monday, bringing the economic hub to a standstill. The huge outpouring of anger over brutality by Nigeria police's notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) forced the government to scrap the unit a week ago and promise reforms.

An # EndSars protester outside the Nigerian embassy in Nairobi. Earlier this month, video emerged of SARS officers allegedly shooting and killing a young man in Nigeria ’ s southern Delta State. The government has refused to meet protesters ’ demands , and is now cracking down on unrest.

A Nigerian newspaper and Online version of the Vanguard, a daily publication in Nigeria covering Nigeria news, Niger delta, general national news Immediate release of all arrested protesters . Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families.

Better-off protesters distribute water bottles and soft drinks. Popular food chains hand out provisions. Nigeria's green and white flag goes from hand to hand for selfies.

Rich, poor, feminist and gay, celebrities and street kids, everyone chants the same slogan: "end SARS now", in reference to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a police unit widely accused of human rights violations.

a sign above a store: Protests against police brutality in Lagos © Pierre FAVENNEC Protests against police brutality in Lagos

The slogan, initially launched to denounce the unit after a video of a man being allegedly killed by police went viral last month, has become a rallying cry against injustice and for more freedom.

- 'Not going anywhere' -

"If we have money on our bank account, they say we are Yahoo boys (cybercriminals). If we wear earrings, they say we are gay (illegal in Nigeria). If we have dreadlocks, they say we smoke weed," Femi Daniel, a 33-year-old demonstrator tells AFP.

Lagos at standstill as Nigeria protests spiral

  Lagos at standstill as Nigeria protests spiral Nigerian protesters paralysed Africa's biggest city Lagos on Monday, blocking the airport as widespread demonstrations sparked by police brutality spiralled. Footage seen by AFP showed hundreds of mainly young protesters waving flags and placards as they marched outside the international departures terminal in the economic hub. The wave of demonstrations began some 10 days ago when crowds took to the streets over abuses by the police's loathedFootage seen by AFP showed hundreds of mainly young protesters waving flags and placards as they marched outside the international departures terminal in the economic hub.

Read more: # EndSARS protests expose Nigeria ' s fault lines. But this time, an energized youth Protests have continued, with people demanding justice for the victims of police brutality One protester told DW that the protests will continue if their demands are not met and the people who

# EndSARS protesters in Abuja. The Nigerian youths on the streets since last week calling for reforms of the police with # EndSARS campaign, have now expanded their 5-point demand to seven points. The struggle is no longer about just scrapping SARS, they are now agitating for an overhaul of the

a man holding a sign: The creation of a new SWAT team to replace the Special Anti-Robbery Squad is among the newly announced measures that protesters oppose © Pierre FAVENNEC The creation of a new SWAT team to replace the Special Anti-Robbery Squad is among the newly announced measures that protesters oppose

"We are tired, we are not free in this country."

Bowing under pressure and faced with a massive online campaign supported by celebrities like Cardi B, Kanye West or Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey, the government dissolved SARS and announced a raft of police reforms.

But it has not been enough to appease the anger and determination of the street.

The creation of a new SWAT team to replace SARS is among the newly announced measures that protesters oppose.

Quickly, the hashtag #EndSWAT was added to #EndSARS and hundreds more people continued to join the movement in a string of cities including in the capital Abuja.

"#EndSARS united us. Now our eyes are open and we are fighting. Our independence is starting now," Daniel says.

Cynthia Shalom, a famous actress in Nigeria's Nollywood film industry, is determined to keep the movement going.

She insists the government address five main demands: the release of all arrested protesters, compensation for families of victims of police abuse, the setting up of an independent investigative body, psychological evaluation of all disbanded SARS officers and an increase of police salaries.

Curfew in Nigeria's Lagos over 'monster' protests

  Curfew in Nigeria's Lagos over 'monster' protests Authorities on Tuesday imposed an indefinite curfew in Nigeria's economic hub Lagos as the police ordered out anti-riot units nationwide to face protests officials claimed had been hijacked by criminals. As the lockdown went into force in Africa's largest city at 4 pm (1500 GMT), hundreds of defiant protesters sang the national anthem as they pledged to remain out on the streets. "Are you afraid?" a man shouted to the flag-waving crowd from a stage at a tollgate in the city centre that has become the epicentre of the demonstrations. "We will stay here peacefully," 32-year-old demonstrator Akin told AFP. "This is our new home.

"They think we are joking. They look at us, sitting in their offices, and they think we are kids partying and that we will go home. I can tell you, we are not going anywhere, I am so proud of our generation," she says.

- 'Protests have snowballed' -

"The protests have snowballed into an outlet for latent anger and frustration," Leena Koni Hoffmann, associate fellow at Chatham House wrote.

"Nigeria has the largest number of young people in poverty in the world, as well as the most food insecure households in West Africa."

This social uprising is first and foremost the result of a generational divide, where the youth does not identify with its ageing rulers.

President Muhammadu Buhari, 77 and a conservative Muslim, is at the helm of a country where half of its 200 million people are under the age of 30 and where the median age is 18.

It is Nigeria's pop stars, icons whose influence stretches across social classes, rather than politicians who are supporting the movement.

"We don’t have a leader. But the youth, the masses wanted us, the celebrities, to speak out. Now I am out, and I'm staying here," Peter Okoye, a singer known as Mr P with 9 million Instagram followers, says.

Standing on his luxury 4x4, the performer's voice crackles as he shouts to the crowd.

"I shouldn't be here you know. I am 40, I have a good life, I made it. But one day, my son, my daughter, they will ask me what I was doing in October 2020, and I will tell them 'I was fighting for you'."

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#EndSARS: How Nigerians harness social media against police abuse .
Activists use online platforms to raise awareness and coordinate protests, as well as connect with volunteers.This was far from the first time Nigerians had made such a demand. It was, however, by far, the first time their calls garnered such widespread support and international media coverage – thanks, largely, to the prominent role of social media in spreading the word.

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