Getty Images (4) Beyoncé, Demi Lovato, Diddy, Rihanna
The West African nation has been in a state of unrest after widespread claims of kidnapping, harassment and extortion by a controversial police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) began circulating across the globe.
Countless Nigerian citizens have taken to the country's streets to peacefully protest against SARS and its illegal practices for roughly two weeks following their online attempts to bring attention to the force. But despite their civil demonstrations, violence erupted when state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu reportedly implemented a 24-hour curfew and deployed anti-riot police who ultimately opened fire in Lekki's toll gate in Lagos state on Tuesday.
One eyewitness says that gunshots were heard for about 15 to 30 minutes and he "saw multiple bodies laying on the ground," according to CNN.
President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the "genuine concerns and agitations by Nigerians about the excessive use of force, and in some cases extrajudicial killings and wrongful conduct, by men of the Nigerian police force" on Oct. 12.
The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people. pic.twitter.com/XjQMSr3jlm
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) October 12, 2020
"The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people," Buhari said in a clip he shared on Twitter last week.
A new police unit, the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, has been created to "fill the gaps" left by the disbandment of SARS. Its officers will be trained by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Reuters reported earlier this week.
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/Getty Images SARS protest
Global rights initiative Amnesty International released a report in June 2019 saying: "Detainees in SARS custody have been subjected to a variety of methods of torture including hanging, mock execution, beating, punching and kicking, burning with cigarettes, waterboarding, near-asphyxiation with plastic bags, forcing detainees to assume stressful bodily positions and sexual violence."
"Findings from our research indicate that few cases are investigated and hardly any officers are brought to justice on account of torture and other ill-treatment," Amnesty International wrote.
Rihanna/Instagram Rihanna's post
You can donate to organizations in support of the #EndSARS movement like the Kokun Foundation and the Feminist Coalition. Diasporans Against SARS, a GoFundMe fundraiser, has also been created to accept donations.
"It's such a betrayal to citizens, the very people put in place to protect are the ones we are most afraid of being murdered by!" she wrote. "My heart is broken for Nigeria man!! It is unbearable to watch! I'm so proud of your strength and not letting up on the fight for what's right! #ENDSARS 🇳🇬"
Nicki Minaj shared her support for the #EndSARS movement as well writing, "Standing with & praying for the brave young people of Nigeria who are on the front lines of this senseless violence. 🇳🇬 Your voice is being heard. #EndSARS."
Standing with & praying for the brave young people of Nigeria who are on the front lines of this senseless violence. Your voice is being heard. 🇳🇬 #EndSARS
— Mrs. Petty (@NICKIMINAJ) October 20, 2020
Beyoncé made clear that she is taking action in the fight against SARS in a post she shared on Instagram. The star revealed that she is "working on partnerships with youth organizations to support those protesting for change. We are collaborating with coalitions to provide emergency healthcare, food and shelter."
The songstress is also directing her followers to visit her website to find organizations that are supporting African nations.
Diddy shared a post on his Instagram to help raise awareness of the movement as well. "It breaks my heart. I’ll help in any way I can. This fight we are in is a global one. Our path forward is through unity. #ENDSARS ✊🏿🇳🇬"
Diddy/Instagram Diddy's post
Quincy/Instagram Quincy's post
I stand with my Nigerian brothers and sisters to end police brutality, the government must answer to the peoples cries #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigeria
— ye (@kanyewest) October 12, 2020
Demi Lovato shared an informative carousel on her Instagram with helpful information about SARS and the struggle to end the unit. She captioned it, "#EndSARS 🇳🇬 Visit endsars.carrd.co/#resources for how you can help."
"Even though Nigeria's police force announced to dissolve SARS, that does not mean the end to police brutality," reads one of the slides in her post. "Nigerians have been and are still protesting for the end of police brutality. #EndSARS."
Demi Lovato/Instagram Demi Lovato's post
Lovato's photo series also addresses other battles faced by the citizens of Congo, Namibia, South Africa, Cameroon, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Ghana.
"Africa deserves better 💔 Justice for Africa ❤️," her post reads.
Viola Davis shared a powerful photo on her Instagram writing: "'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.' ~MLK. #EndSars #PrayingForNigeria 🇳🇬."
The #EndSARS movement will continue to bring attention to the fight against police brutality in Nigeria until proper action is taken.