Illustration by Ngadi Smart
To honor the #EndSARS movement, Sahelien.com has solicited stories of encounters with Nigerian police, and commissioned artist Ngadi Smart to illustrate them. These stories show the everyday horror Nigerians face at the hands of the police, and the courage citizens show in resisting their brutality. We will publish a new account every Sunday.
It was a journey from Ibadan To Oyo town. We were in a “micra” cab (that’s what Ibadan cabs are called). My friend and I were in the car, so we were three guys, one sat at the front and two at the back.
We were stopped by police men with assault rifles because we had tinted windows. Before we could explain, the butt of the AK rifle was already through the car window and glass shattered everywhere. We almost had some glass in our eyes. It all happened so fast, and the driver was physically assaulted while we were interrogated and threatened with a cocked gun.
They searched our phones and MacBooks asking what we do for a living. These mfs (pardon my French) went as far as checking my email addresses and Whatsapp texts under the guise of looking for fraudulent “leads.”
If not for my friend’s dad in the military, it would’ve been a very different story. We’d probably have been robbed by the police or even worse, killed.
* * *
On October 20, 2020, the Nigerian military opened fire on peaceful #EndSARS protesters at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos, Nigeria, killing at least 15 people, according to eyewitness DJ Switch. The massacre put a brutal halt to street protests that had galvanized the nation for two weeks following the brutal killing of a man in Ughelli, Delta State, on October 7th by officers from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The protests demanding an end to police brutality and a disbanding of SARS had grown organically and spread across the nation and in diaspora communities around the world, creating a powerful rallying point for dynamic, generational change. In the words of Saratu Abiola, “#EndSARS broke the cycle of mistrust and showed that there might still be hope for salvaging Nigerians’ faith in each other.”
To this date, no police officer, soldier, or public official has even lost their job, much less been held accountable for their part in the massacre.