“I am with my Nigerian brothers and sisters to end police brutality, government must respond to people’s cries #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigeria,” West tweeted on Monday.
The protests in Nigeria’s cities came after weeks of online outcry from young people across the country over allegations of kidnapping, harassment and extortion by a police unit known as Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS). The protests continued after the Inspector General of Police announced on Sunday that the unit was being disbanded and its officers were being redeployed.
Using the #EndSARS hashtag on social media, international celebrities joined Nigerians in the campaign to end police brutality in all its forms.
Likewise, American gospel singer Kirk Franklin, using the photo of one of the Nigerian protesters, posted a supportive message on Instagram: “For over 20 years Nigeria was with me, now I am with you. #Endsarsnow. “
Over the weekend, the Nigerian diaspora community also held protests in solidarity with their counterparts across the country.
Sunday, #EndSARS protests took place in Canada, England, Germany and the United States.
Fakhriyyah Hashim, one of the protesters in London, told CNN that the purpose of the protest was to encourage the diaspora community in England to financially support the protesters in Nigeria so that they can continue their protests.
Afrobeat stars Wizkid (real name Ayodeji Balogun) and Mr. Eazi (real name Oluwatosin Ajibade) also attended the London protest.
Mr Eazi, speaking to the crowd with a microphone, said he was personally arrested and harassed by SARS agents. “None of us are safe if we continue to stay in the comfort of our homes allowing people to talk and say it doesn’t affect them,” he said in the video seen by CNN.
Protesters also gathered Sunday and Monday chanting “End SARS” at Queen Street in Toronto, Canada.
Blessing Timidi Digha, one of the protesters in attendance on both days, told CNN that the protesters’ demands included justice for those brutalized by the police unit, police reform and an end to all forms of police brutality.
“We were hoping to share our personal experiences in the hands of SARS and the police, to join our colleagues back home in claiming the dignity of Nigerian life,” Digha said.
Lagos State spokesman Muyiwa Adejobi said all complaints against his agents were fully investigated and appropriate penalties applied to offenders. Adejobi added that many people do not report the abuse because they fear they will not get justice. He encouraged those affected by the police misconduct to report it.
Dissolution of SARS
As protests continued in different parts of the world on Sunday, Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar Adamu announced that SARS was being dissolved.
But protests continued in Lagos, Abuja and Kwara on Monday, with young Nigerians saying they would continue to take to the streets until the entire police force is reformed.
Ayobami Akinbo, who took part in protests in the Nigerian capital Abuja, agreed. “It is not enough to end this unit and redeploy it elsewhere,” he told CNN. “What we want is for the unit to come to an end and an investigation into the conduct of the SARS unit. ”
Akinbo added that officers should be trained on how to engage with citizens to minimize the brutality they inflict on people.