Literature review on end sars protest in Nigeria

Literature review on endsars protest in Nigeria


In Nigeria, there is a famous saying that the police are not your friends. This stems from the fact that the police have assaulted everyone in Nigeria, so they have learnt how to live with it. Hence the problems associated with SARS have been recurrent. However, Not until last week a video went viral last week depicting two police officers dragging two men out from a hotel, and they shot one of them. The abuse of power started a national outcry, and this instigated these peaceful protests or revolution. These protests have also witnessed the abuse of power by the police; they shoot at protesters to intimidate the protesters into stopping the protest. Hitherto, the Nigerian youths are not backing down from the protest against disbanding SARS. The protests started as a social media campaign using the hashtag #ENDSARS between 9 to 11th October 2020. The objective of the paper is to give an overview of the story so far, using secondary data. The paper concludes on how peace can be achieved.


In this section of the study, we aim at conducting a careful review of relevant and related literature focusing on the research questions. The theoretical framework for this study is drawn from the Structural Functional Theory.

History of Protests in Nigeria

Activism is by no means new to Nigerians. Before 1960, social protests were rampant. Activists challenged social issues like colonialism, slavery, rising inflation, unemployment and corruption. These protests took various forms such as print, radio, music and of course, the streets. For instance, during the colonial era, a local newspaper, IweIrohin(1859 – 1867) initially set out to create a reading culture amongst Nigerians ended up becoming a vigorous critic of the slave trade. The reaction of the British Colonial Office was expected; they reprimanded the newspaper for supporting indigenous causes (Stears Business, 2020).


Despite this, the paper had some successes. IweIrohin’s journalism was a strong weapon in the fight to deliver the Egba people from the rulers of the Dahomey Kingdom, a major player in the slave trade with the British. Therefore, as early as the 19th century, IweIrohin was already proof of the transformative power of citizen-driven protests, in the form of journalism. Decades later, during the 1929 Aba Women’s Riots (as the British named it), we witnessed ‘sitting’ as a major protest tactic. The female protesters would dance and sing about their grievances outside the homes of warrant chiefs and Native court officials. In some cases, they would go as far as plastering the properties with mud (Oshinnaike, 2020).

These protests relied heavily on the persistence of the Aba women, knowledge of their culture and a commitment to non-violence, at least on the part of the women. These riots were not in vain, and are remembered as significant markers of women-led protests in the country. They led to significant successes against the British government, includg reducing taxes and the resignation of a number of local stooges appointed by colonial authorities. Noticeably, IweIrohin and the Aba Women’s Riots are known as effective and non-violent protests. In the case of Aba, the police, unfortunately, killed over 50 women despite their peaceful approach. Still, what these two events showed was that peaceful protesters attract more sympathy from audiences because they do not carry the collateral damage that goes with the violent protests we have seen in Nigeria’s history (Stears Business, 2020).

In 1966, the military took action that resulted in Nigeria’s first coup d’etat. This violent protest led to the death of regional leaders like Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello and Festus Okotie-Eboh. The rationale behind this protest was that the military leaders would do a better job governing the newly independent country. Unfortunately, coups succeed coups, and peace was quickly relegated to the past. Between 1966 to 1999, Nigeria experienced many coups. However, the initial claim to rid the country of the men in high and low places that sought bribes and demanded 10% was seemingly forgotten. Other protests include, the labour union protest, student union protest and the most recent been EndSars protest (Oshinnaike, 2020).

Causes of EndSars Protest in Nigeria

In their study of world protests between 2006 and 2013, for example, Ortiz, Saenz, Burke, and Berrada (2013) found out that a significant percentage of world protests, especially in Third World countries in the past decade have  been  against  neo-liberal  reforms,  including  the  privatization of public enterprises, full-scale deregulation of public utilities and the implementation of various forms of austerity measures. According to  Rao  (2010)  the  protesters in the Third World countries against  neo-liberal  reforms  seemed  desirous  of  a  state that was robust enough to be able to stand up to, and refuse, the dictates of powerful international financial institutions (IFIs) such as  the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and   the World Bank, whose  structural  adjustment  prescriptions  had  stripped  away  the  minimalist safety nets of overwhelmed but aspiring welfare states. The protests against neo-liberal reforms  according  to  Ortiz  et  al  (2013)  demanded  reforms   such   as   increased  government funding of social services,  public utilities  and  reduction  in corruption  especially in the petroleum industry controlled by shylock and oligarchic marketers.

Thus, protest serves as a way of reminding those in power about the inconsistencies and horrors in the lives of marginalized groups. Several causes have been attributed to the emergence of the Endsars protest, noting also that while SARS is notorious for its brutality, human rights abuses by security forces are not confined to the NPF. In 2015, Amnesty International published a report which detailed a series of atrocities committed by the Nigerian military. Human rights violations by security forces date back to Nigeria’s military dictatorships, when security agencies such as the police were established to safeguard military regimes rather than to protect and serve communities. Notwithstanding the advent of democratic rule in 1999, this mindset remains  deeply  ingrained.  Police  officers   and   military  personnel   have   been   deployed to intimidate peaceful protesters as well as arrest journalists and other critics of government (Nkasi, 2020).

Another major driver of the EndSars protests is the human rights abuses committed by SARS and other security operatives which is the lack of accountability for their actions. In many situations, security operatives who violate human rights are shielded by the police hierarchy; victims are afraid to speak out for fear of being targeted again. A June 2020 Amnesty report stated that the government has failed to prosecute a single SARS operative sin ce the National Assembly passed the Anti-Torture Act of 2017 (Amnesty International June Report, 2020).Also, the enabling legislation for the NPF, the Police Act, is obsolete. The act, which was adopted in 1943, leaves broad discretionary powers in the hands of police officers. These allo w officers to perform warrantless searches and make arrests based on mere suspicion of guilt or even intent to commit an offence. This is the crux of many allegations against SARS: victims’ phones  have  been  seized without a  warrant, while   others   have   been   arrested   for their tattoos or dread-locks.

Scholars have argued that social media has become central to many protests that have occurred in the past decade (Silva, 2015). Social media can play a key role in mobilization because it facilitates access to large amounts of contacts, generates collective identities, and serves as a site for information   distributions     (Valenzuela,     Arriagada     and     Scherman,  2012).    Scholars are, however, quick to point out that social media does not necessarily create new  forms of protest or alter traditional organizing in fundamental ways. As  Valenzuela  et  al  (2012) contend that activism should not be restricted to the  online  space.  In  other  words, social media tends to support or facilitate traditional protest forms.  In  addition  to  using  Twitter  and  Facebook   to   coordinate   protests   and   to   denounce   police   violence,  protests used social media as an alternative information source, a space to publish a counter- narrative to the version being portrayed in pro-government propaganda channels.

Effect of the Endsars protest on the Nigerian Economy

The effect of the Endsars protest on the Nigerian economy, is enormous, one least expected, thus unimaginable. One of it, is unattractiveness. It may attract downgrades by rating agencies, as the crisis has potential to roll back gradual progress being made in economic recovery. Still, on the impact on the economy, MutiuYekeen who is the Head of Corporate Communications, Primero Transport Services (PTS) Ltd, owners of BRT Buses, said the company lost over N100 million in six days resulting from the protest, which has had the nation’s economic capital ravaged (Abuede,2020).

Also, Uwaleke and Gam-Ikon, Garba Kurfi, Managing Director at APT Securities and Funds Limited, in a note to Business A.M., said there will be some economic impacts from the protest; especially from the grounds of closing the economic nerve centre (Lagos) for over three days, is a great loss. In his words: “Remember, Lagos controls about 50 per cent of the Nigerian economy. It’s a great loss as this will affect all flights take-off and landing, which centres around Lagos, as well as other economic activities that have to be postponed. It’s a huge loss to the economy. The impacts are many because most other parts of the country are linked to Lagos in one way or the other.”Speaking on the market expectations, Garba said “the market reflects the happenings in the economy; however, we are expecting the market to move upward because of the Q3 results which are expected to be better than Q2 because of the opening of the economy from Covid-19. Also, many investors will like to stay in the capital market, because there is no better alternative to invest than the capital market (Abuede,2020).

In Lagos state, Assets replacement cost is put at N1trn, and will definitely manifest in the GDP. According to industry executives and economists, the result will manifest in a fall in real Gross

Domestic Product, GDP. It will fall to around 6.91% year-on-year, deepening the projected economic contraction, disruptions in supply-chain, and faster rise in inflation. Investment bankers clearly stated that about N1trn is lost to firms. More so, job losses and poverty are certainly going to be on the rise (Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry LCCI, 2020).

In addition, retail stores across the countries were looted and goods carted away. The long list of destroyed public and private property in Lagos includes AjeromiIfelodun Local Government secretariat; Palace of the Oba of Lagos; Lagos High Court, Igbosere; Oyingbo BRT terminus; Ojodu Berger BRT terminus; Vehicle Inspection Office, Ojodu Berger; Lagos State Public Works Corporation, Ojodu Berger; Lagos City Hall and Circle Mall, Lekki; numerous luxury shops in Surulere, The Nation Newspaper, TVC, and Shoprite Lekki. The destroyed BRT vehicles cost $200,000 each, while 57 of them cost $100,000 each, all totaling about N3.9 billion. According to the police, the 25 stations burnt in Lagos are Orile, Amukoko, Layeni, Ilasamaja, Ikotun, Ajah, Igando, Elemoro, Makinde, Onipanu, EbuteEro, Pen-Cinema, Isokoko, Alade, Cele, Igbo-Elerin, Shibiri, Gbagada, Onilekere, Makoko, Daleko, Asahun, Makinyo, Amuwo-Odofin, Anti- Kidnapping, Surulere. Other police stations that were vandalized but not burnt were Ojo, Ojodu, Mowo, PPL, and Morogbo (LCCI, 2020).

In other affected areas, Airport Road, SarkinYaki, Court Road, Burma Road, and Zungeru Road, business activities were brought to a standstill. In Plateau state, banks and shops were destroyed. In Enugu, Youths participating in the #EndSARS protest grounded the state capital. Motorists were prevented from getting to their destination on time. Thousands of youths supporting President Muhammadu Buhari and scores of others calling for an end to police brutality staged multiple protests in different parts of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, bringing social and economic activities to a standstill (BusinessDay, October, 22nd 2020).

Other states apart from those mentioned above also experienced huge negative effect on their businesses, resulting from the EndSARS protest. A release by the Anambra State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, SP Haruna Mohammed showed that 21 police divisions were attacked by hoodlums who disguised as protesters, while seven of them were burnt down. Other government property burnt or destroyed were, the High Court Ogidi, Idemili North LG Secretariat, while Zik Statue at DMGS roundabout, Onitsha was vandalized. Also, the nation’s capital, Abuja, Kano, Oyo, Ogun and Plateau states witnessed destruction, death and looting. In Kano state, rampaging youths went after shops and homes of residents in the area carting away valuables and setting some ablaze. Several vehicles were also burnt (Fagbo, 2020).

Empirically, to ascertain the economic and financial effects of the protests on small businesses, SBM surveyed and interviewed 180 business owners in two locations in Lagos state: Oshodi Isolo, and Lagos Mainland, in the last week of October 2020. Businesses surveyed were mostly sole proprietorships (84.1%) with no employees and a few micro/small enterprises (16%) with about 2-10 employees. Shop owners, petty traders involved in wholesale and retail trade of many sorts were surveyed because they were affected by looting that followed the protest. A majority (66%) of the respondents were aged 25-40, followed by those who were 40-65 (32%) and a few were under 25 years of age (Morgen, 2020). Despite the above, though the LCCI President, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje expressed concern about the negative impact of the protest on the Nigerian economy, she noted that the protests yielded positive results and reawakened the need to reform the shortcoming in Nigeria’s political governance.

Theoretical Framework

The main tenets of the theory have been carefully used to analyze the Effect of the EndSars protest on the Nigerian economy. Structural functional theory was developed by Talcott Parsons (1902-79), an American Sociologist in the twentieth century. Other contributors to this theory include: Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim. According to functionalism, society is a system of interconnected parts that work together in harmony to maintain a state of balance and social equilibrium for the whole. For example, each of the social institutions contributes important functions for society: Family provides a context for reproducing, nurturing, and socializing children; education offers a way to transmit a society’s skills, knowledge, and culture to its youth; politics provides a means of governing members of society; economics provides for the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services; and religion provides moral guidance and an outlet for worship of a higher power (Ritzer, 2012).

The functionalist perspective emphasizes the interconnectedness of society by focusing on how each part influences and is influenced by other parts. Functionalists use the terms functional and dysfunctional to describe the effects of social elements on society. Elements of society are functional if they contribute to social stability and dysfunctional if they disrupt social stability. Some aspects of society can be both functional and dysfunctional. For example, crime is dysfunctional in that it is associated with physical violence, loss of property and fear. But according to Durkheim and other functionalists, crime is also functional for society because it leads to heightened awareness of shared moral bonds and increased social cohesion (Harlambos & Holborn, 2005; Ritzer, 2012).

Functionalists posit that there is value consensus in every social reality. They believe that there is general agreement by members of a society on what is desirable, worthwhile and worthless. People share consensus on the values, norms and beliefs of a society. A high degree of consensus in a society whether it is democratic or communist binds members together to form an integrated and cohesive unit. Functionalists also assume that societies and phenomena are pervaded by stability. The theory assumes that a certain degree of order and stability is necessary for the survival of social system. Functionalists downplay the conflict in society between classes and believe that once norms and values are maintained, the society would be conflict free (Ritzer, 2012).

The theory works on the assumption that each part cannot be understood in isolation until it is seen or explained in relation to the other parts. Thus the essence of each part such as the liver cannot be understood until it is looked at in terms of how it relates with the heart and the brain to keep the whole body as one. The theory also works on the assumption that each society has certain needs in that there are a number of activities that must be carried out for social life to survive and develop. In the structural functional model, individuals carry out each of these tasks in various institutions and roles that are consistent with the structures and norms of the society. One of the avenues for fulfilling this function is through the functionality of the Nigeria Police as an agency saddled with the mantle of fighting crime as it relates to the well being of the people and economy in general.

Applying this theory to the topic under study, the Endsars protest affected not just the SARs arm of the Police but the entire Police, Nigerians and the Economy. The Police is supposed to work for the betterment of the populace but its inability to provide security for all and sundry, prompted the protest. Thus, the theory explains the role the EndSars protest plays in ensuring reforms in the Nigerian police force for a better security architecture and robust economic development. From the functionalist perspective therefore, the EndSars protest which is an agitation in relation to the function of the police as an agency is likened to a structure that contributes to smooth functioning of the Nigerian economy by ensuring a better police with government agencies, ministries and departments. As the body has essential organs, each with a specific function in the body, just like other institutions of the family, economy, politics, education and religion, police as an organization in the society also has its own function to perform. Its working will help maintain the smooth functioning of other institutions in the society and particularly the smooth functioning of the economy.

Summary of review of related literatures on Endsars protest

The study revealed that the Endsars protest though a peaceful one initially was a reaction to police brutality hence the call for a disbandment. Although the disbandment has been announced severally but with no implementation until the protest. The protest which became deadly was as a result of the inhumane attitude of a section of the Nigerian police called SARS towards its victims. It was discovered that the EndSars protest did not only achieve its aims of SARs disbandment but also had important non-institutional outcomes using non-institutional mechanisms of drawing global attention to the menace of police brutality in Nigeria and increased public concern for good governance and accountability for an improved economy. EndSars protest has left memories not just on the Nigerian people and her economy but on the global community on issues of police brutality in Nigeria. Economic crises have been a major problem particularly in Third World Nations with attendant high poverty level, unemployment, high illiteracy, hunger, disease and problem of industrialization. According to Omokolade, (2020), The African Department of the International Monetary Fund attributed the civil unrest in Nigeria, spiked by the peaceful #EndSARS protest to the vulnerable state of the Nigerian economy.The Board blamed the civil unrest and the social instability in the Nation on the economic difficulties in the country as well as Nigeria’s economy low growth prospect. IMF reiterated that the protest in the country is not just against police brutality, but also unemployment, poverty.The Department explained that the difficult event that followed since the wake of the decline in oil prices in 2015-16 in Nigeria, has made economic prospects low in the country, and this dislocation has exerted pressure on standards of living, which fueled the protest. However, the development of the economy in the midst of EndSars protest is still feasible through promotion of small scale businesses that will contribute a long way to stimulating sustainable economic development in the society through creation of jobs, reduction of unemployment and crime rate among other social problems that are protest related due to a dwindling economy.

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