On October 9th, the women of the Delta Epsilon chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated hosted a virtual round table event to discuss the devastating practices of police brutality in Nigeria. The event was entitled “Enough is Enough #ENDSARS”, and it was a chance to show students in America that they should be informed and to speak up against all types of brutality.
The event had two student speakers who currently attend Alcorn to help students gain more insight on the issue. Itunuoluwa Williams, a Senior Political Science major and Emmanual Ufio, a Junior Mass Communications major, are both from Nigeria. At the beginning of the informational they were first asked “What is SARS?” Ufio spoke and broke down the acronym of SARS. SARS stands for “Special Anti-Robbery Squad” and it’s a special police squad in Nigeria that was created in 1992 to help combat robbery and crimes, as it was at an all time high. Over time the people within SARS began to stop citizens and abuse their power. Because cybercrime was also at an all time high, they exploited people and targeted the youth. They believed that if you are of a certain age you can’t have luxury items. Ufio stated, “If you looked good or wore dreads or had tattoos, they would target you. Then they beat you up and arrested you. If your parents didn’t come and bail you out of jail then they would kill you.”
Williams continued by explaining how SARS would come into your home while you were watching television and potentially kill you. Nigeria has an issue with not paying police officers, so their entire premise is to extort the youth and take their belongings and claim it as their own. Foreigners are also a prime target for SARS. Williams mentioned that in an instance where you don’t have any money on you, SARS would forcibly make you go to the Automatic Teller Machine and force you to withdraw your money and give it to them.
Special support groups, such as the Feminist Coalition, have collected funds to provide for those who have been affected by SARS. They also buy food for those who are risking their own lives to protest against SARS. Creating awareness is important and donations are very important for Nigerians to continue on fighting for their rights. Protests have been suppressed for the past two weeks as a curfew was enacted by the government.
Social media has played a huge role in exposing the violent ways of SARS. Getting the information out via social media was important. Now the government is trying to restrict social media and suppress the issue. The government wants to enact a social media ban to restrict what people can post and not criticize the government and speak out against them.
The Black Lives Matter movement in America sparked with the shooting and killing of an unarmed African American teen, Trayvon Martin, in 2012. Martin, who was 17 at the time, was killed by George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of all charges against him, thus the term “Black Lives Matter” came to light. Now with #ENDSARS, this movement began when protestors, who were protesting the problem of inconsistent electricity, were shot at by SARS. A student named Jimoh Isiaq was stuck by a bullet and killed. He wasn’t protesting and the issue was finally brought to the media’s attention.
Nigeria isn’t the only country that is hurting. The hashtag #Congoisbleeding has been an ongoing movement. This movement brought to light the mass genocide of the Congolese people and forced child labor in the country. Since Congo has one of the highest amounts of natural resources, task forces are forcing children to mine minerals that can be used for cell phones and other technologies. These children are severely underpaid and are beaten and forced to work under severe temperatures.
Currently celebrities are identifying the issues and protesting with the Nigerian and Congolese people and speaking out against the violence. They are using their celebrity to spread awareness.