Here Are Some Key Moments Of The #EndSars Protest

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The nationwide protests by Nigerians to end the operations of officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police force has not shown any sign of waning even as it nears it's second week.
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Hundreds of protesters have been able to disrupt economic and social activities in their spirited attempt to bring the notoriously corrupt and brutal SARS to an end.

The Lagos State government reported that the continued blockade of the Lekki Tollgate, on the Lekki-Ajah expressway, has cost the state over N234 million.

Over the country commuters spend long hours in traffic caused by the movement of large mass of angry protesters.

A number of casualties have been lost to police shooting, while protesters have come under the attacks of counter-protesting thugs- yet the protest still goes on.

We take a look at the defining, or most important moments of the protests so far.

The Ughelli Incident

On 3rd October 2020 a video footage that would drastically change the Nigerian socio-political climate went viral.

Filmed and featuring narration by two individuals in a car, the footage showed a young man, bloodied and unconscious, on the floor, as well as a police vehicle and a jeep speeding away.

The narrators told us in frenzied voice what was happening: the policemen had killed the young man and were making off with his vehicle.

Although we were later to learn that the victim was not killed, but rather thrown off the vehicle, the footage proved to be the last straw for Nigerian youths who had been living with pent up anger and frustration at SARS extortion and brutality.

From there the #EndSars hashtag was born and it would become the most trended hashtag worldwide for the next couple of days.

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Runtown And Falz Sparks the protest

With the #EndSars hashtag sitting comfortably atop the worldwide trend list and international sympathy firmly on Nigerians, all that remained was in taking the online angst to the streets.

It was always going to need a celebrity or figure with substantial following to take Nigerians out of their homes and social media accounts into the streets and Naira Marley was among the first to position himself as such a person.

Goaded by Nigerians, Naira Marley arranged a protest for Wednesday 7th October. However the controversial musician called off the protest in favor of a dialogue with the Nigerian police on Instagram live.

While the promises of reform from the sweet-talking police spokesman, Frank Mba, was enough for Naira Marley, it was not enough for Runtown.

On Thursday, together with Falz and other celebrities, Runtown led Nigerians on a protest on the streets of Lagos. Since then Nigerians have not left the streets.

Mr Macaroni and The Overnight Sleep

While Runtown might have sparked the protests, there was little in that initial walk that indicated the protest would display the amount of resilience we have witnessed so far.

However during the night, Nigerians were regaled with images on social media of the protesters at the Lagos State House of Assembly where they had camped.

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Replacing Runtown at the center of things now was Mr Macaroni, a popular comedian who has seen his stock rise in recent months.

For the first time Nigerians got a glimpse of the kind of willfulness and resilience that would drive the protests. The protesters refused to leave for their homes as the hours went by, instead choosing to sleep overnight at the House of Assembly area where they had set up tents.

When policemen came to destroy the tents at night, the protesters slept on the bare floor. Images of Mr Macaroni himself laying on the floor flooded social media.

The message was passed to the Nigerian government that the protesters have come to stay this time around.

Feminist Coalition Fund-raising

The #EndSars protests was able to generate considerable momentum because of the determination of Nigerians to crowdfund it to success.

Through the Feminist Coalition organization, Nigerians were able to raise over 74 million naira used to fund protests around the country.

Foods were provided, ambulances strutted around protest venues equipped with medical equipments and legal services were coordinated at a moment’s notice for arrested protesters.

Most recently a toll-free helpline was set up for the protesters.

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SARS Disbanded

Following over a week of sustained protests, the Inspector General of Police finally announced the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery squad on the 11th of October.

Days later, Vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, announced on a Twitter thread that processes towards meeting the demands of the protesters were already underway.

Although all these were the initial demands of the protesters, doubts about the true intentions of the government meant that protests continued, with the protesters demanding to see concrete actions from the government before they leave the streets.

Festival of lights

On Friday, protesters lighted up the deep night with candles. The images from drone cameras were breathtaking as the the eyes takes in the vast sea of candle lights dotting the landscape that is the Lekki tollgate area.

The occasion was sombre as protesters remembered victims of police brutality with songs and stories. Victims or friends or families of victim took turns on the microphone to narrate chilling tales of police brutality.

It was a night that serves as a reminder to protesters that that the cause was too serious to lose focus on. Already, fears towards protesters loosing focus or derailing mounted in the face of increasing use of alcohol and marijuana at the protest grounds, as well as plans to club and watch football matches.

Protesters reemerged from Friday night re-energized to stand up to the Nigerian government and demand honest reforms.

From the Lekki protest ground, the candlelight vigil was also observed at the Alausa, Abuja, Ibadan, London and New York protest areas, inevitably reinforcing the sense of community that has been integral to these protests.

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