Three years after the historic #ENDSARS protests, EiE Nigeria, in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission, Yiaga Africa, and SBM Intelligence, will launch a comprehensive report shedding light on the progress of the judicial panels established to address police brutality and related issues in Nigeria.
The report will be released on October 31, 2023, aiming to highlight instances of denied justice and policy gaps within the process, according to a statement by EiE. The report seeks to reinforce accountability and transparency within the system,
The #ENDSARS movement, which began as a youth-led protest against police brutality, extrajudicial killings, extortion, and abuse of power, specifically by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), gained momentum in October 2020. It started as a social media campaign and eventually led to street demonstrations.
The core demand was for an end to police brutality, unlawful arrests, torture, and extrajudicial killings. Still, it evolved into a platform for addressing broader issues, such as insecurity, corruption, economic challenges, and governance problems affecting the majority of Nigerians and youth unemployment.
While the federal government disbanded SARS in response to the protests, the movement took a violent turn when certain individuals seized the opportunity to vandalize public facilities and attack law enforcement officers. The protests came to a tragic halt on October 20, 2020, when Nigerian Army officers fired on the protesters, resulting in casualties and many unresolved issues leaving families in continuous search for closure.
Reflecting on the three-year anniversary of the #ENDSARS protests, ‘Yemi Adamolekun. EiE Nigeria’s Executive Director stressed the need for ongoing advocacy for accountability and justice for victims of police brutality, citing the tragic case of Pelumi Onifade, a 20-year-old intern who lost his life during the protests, and whose family is still awaiting justice.
The establishment of judicial panels of inquiry in 29 out of Nigeria’s 36 states was a significant step toward investigating cases of police brutality, offering a platform for victims to seek justice and rebuilding public trust in security agencies.
However, the progress and outcomes of these panels remain uncertain, with some states yet to report any progress three years later.
Furthermore, the report also underlines the issue of impunity, specifically highlighting the case of CSP James Nwafor, a former Anambra SARS official, who continues to evade accountability despite allegations of atrocities during his service.
In the words of Anthony Okechukwu Ojukwu, the executive secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, police brutality is a stain on Nigeria’s collective conscience, and efforts must continue to eradicate this problem.