The role of mass media in the fight against police brutality. A case study of Endsars protest
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was created in Lagos State in 1992, a time when Notorious armed robbers such as Shina Rambo6 were in control of the state (Midenda, 2017).
It was created as a faceless police unit that performs undercover operations against armed robbers. Within almost two decades of its creation, the unit has spread across the various states of the country. The spread of the unit across the nation without a proper structure, accounts for some of it lawless charcteristics.
The current report of police brutality using the #Endsars on Twitter has brought public attention to it. The online campaign about the police brutality is new, however, Nigerian pop stars has over the years expressed their worries, fears and incidents of police brutality.
The Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood has also portrayed cases of brutality and corruption within the Nigeran police force in their productions.Nigerians having been subjected to wanton arrests, extortion and extra judiciary killings, lunched a social media campaign using the hastag #Endsars on Twitter to put an end to police brutality.
The #Endsars campaign started with the publication of a petition by convener Segun Awosanya. It was signed by 10,195 Nigerians and submitted to the Nigerian National Assembly to scrap the police unit. The Twitter campaign started on the 2nd of December 2017, when a footage of police officers attached to the unit shot and killed a man surfaced online. The campaign became a trending topic on Twitter with over 400,000 Tweets8 within twelve hours.
In October 2020, Nigerians turned the online campaign to protest. Nigerians using 280 characters detailing their horrible and harrowing experiences with SARS, the dreaded unit of the police created to fight banditry. Before the campaign, there have been isolated cases of police brutality all over the country. However, it was during the campaign that the damage caused by such brutality was discovered.
The campaign also exposed the level of rot within the police unit according to the convener of the campaign. The campaign further revealed that the police has no recognizable structure with no organized system of operation, officers of the unit act based on self-will with little or no regards for fundamental human right for citizens especially vulnerable youth.