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The #EndSARS Movement: Is Social Media Enough?

In the last few days. thousands of Nigerians have shared their experiences on Twitter with pictures and videos of violence, harassment, and brutality meted out to them by men of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police.

This campaign has generated a lot of buzz since it started and it is disheartening to see that people live in constant fear of those that should be protecting them. The stories online surrounding the #EndSARS movement are sad, to say the least. With tales ranging from police officers stopping youths simply because they drive ‘big’ cars to accusing innocent persons of murder, to extortions, threats, and bullying, it’s safe to say that the men of SARS have become the terror they were tasked to eradicate.

Raising their voices to join the campaign, many prominent musicians including Don Jazzy, Simi, Falz, Patoranking, Olamide, and Reekado Banks among others, have aligned with the people, calling on the Federal Government to scrap the ‘terror squad’ for its flagrant abuse of power.

“Over 100,000 tweets from concerned Nigerians. The people don’t feel protected. If we cannot fix SARS then end SARS”, Don Jazzy tweeted. Patoranking also chimed in, “You can never be bigger than the people #EndSARS”.

The message got to the right quarters, so it seemed. The personal assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, Bashir Ahmed, responded with a statement on Twitter: “I have earnestly been following #EndSARS — I must say it is indeed
saddening. While it is not within my power to do anything. But I promise to bring this very urgent matter to the attention of relevant authorities. Rest assured that the Buhari administration is a listening one.” In his statement, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, ordered the immediate reorganisation of the squad formations in all the states. But unfortunately, this has done little to appease Nigerians. This is partly due to the arrest of a certain Moses Motoni allegedly by officials of SARS in Jabi, Abuja.

BudgIt’s Moses Motoni and Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Jimoh Moshood

That birthed another round of social media campaign with Nigerians taking to Twitter to demand the release of Moses Motoni and relentlessly plea the eradication of SARS.

Motoni was said to have been arrested for demanding accountability in the Niger State budget and expenditure although the police have denied. Although the Police denied Motoni was arrested by SARS, it, however, said he had been granted bail. With men of the anti-robbery squad drawn from the larger pool of Nigerian Police, which itself is in need of wholesome reform, it is left to be seen whether the #EndSARS campaign will put an end to police brutality in Nigeria.

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