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ENDSARS PROTEST AND POLICE BRUTALITY: ITS IMPLICATIONS ON NIGERIANS YOUTHS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION   1.1 Background to the Study When law enforcement agents use excessive force against a subject, it is legally characterized as police brutality or excessive use of force by law enforcement. Torture as an interrogation tactic, as well as other flagrant violations of human rights, remain serious weaknesses in the Nigeria Police Force, drawing public scorn, opprobrium, and criticism. Bruce (2011). Torture, described as one of the most extreme forms of violence, resulting in both psychological and physical consequences is sometimes considered as an indispensable interrogation mechanism for gathering strategic intelligence Constanzo & Gerrity (2009) Worried by the incessant reports of human rights abuse of the members of the Police Force, the Former Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, once warned the Special Anti-Robbery Squad operatives against torture and extrajudicial killings, saying “no policeman in the world had the right or authority to kill crime suspects” The Punch (2016, September 23) He urged SARS officers to always respect the rights of all Nigerians, saying that this was the only way they could improve the public's unfavorable opinion of them. Protests against police brutality have erupted in Nigeria before when campaigners and academics uncovered considerable evidence of human rights violations by SARS officers and other NPF members. In a 2016 report, Amnesty International asserted that SARS officers routinely committed torture and other abuses against detainees—many of whom were arrested arbitrarily, detained incommunicado, and forced to “confess” or pay bribes to secure release Aborisade, R. & Fayemi, J. (2015).   Police brutality has thus lead to youths engagement in fierce protest.  Protest is a global phenomenon. Therefore, the past decade is saturated with instances of protests across the world, such as Occupy Wall Street, the Spanish Indignados, the first Arab Spring uprising of 2010 in Tunisia and Egypt, and the second Arab Spring in Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria in the period of 2018-2020. The Black Lives Matter movement, Gorge Floyd and anti-lockdown protests were also carried out in various nations, such as the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic and other European nations. Similarly, the South American nations (Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela) also experienced widespread protests due to long periods of frustrations, dissatisfaction with the social policies of governments and mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Asia, common protests included the labour protests in China, the Anti- Extradition Law Amendment Bill movement in Hong Kong (2019-2020), the Candlelight Struggle or Candlelight Revolution of South Korea (2016-2017) and a host of others. In the African setting, common protests included protests related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fees Must Fall protest (2015-2016) and xenophobic protests in South Africa, the Malian spring protests of 2020, and the anti-third-term presidential bid protests in Ivory Coast in the run-up to the presidential election of 31 October 2020. In recent times, Ghanaians have also protested as a result of widespread socio-economic challenges, such as rising inflation, high cost of living, corruption and removal of fuel subsidies on goods and services. Nigeria has a rich history of protests, especially student protests, which played a seminal role in the struggle for the nation's independence in 1960. Thus, there has been a preponderance of protests in Nigeria. This unwelcome development is so pervasive that many have considered protests to be an indispensable part of contemporary Nigerian society. Nigerians have protested for several reasons, which include police brutality. Given that the political and socio-economic structure of Nigeria plays a key role in the determination of the roles and priority of the citizenry and the police force, various tasks of the police in Nigeria are related to the various conflicting interests among various citizens, which could threaten the peace and stability of the society. Therefore, in an attempt to ensure law and order, some police officers have resorted to the use of excessive violence and other forms of police brutality, leading to a gross violation of the human rights of Nigerians (Alemika, 1999; Ibrahim, 2016). The resulting protests against acts of brutality, especially those committed by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), an elite group within the police force tasked with combating armed robbery and its associated crimes, have been a recurring theme in Nigerian society. The EndSARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) protest, which resembles related global protests, was largely unanticipated, leaderless, local and global, online and offline, violent and non-violent. As Nigerians and the global community takes stock of the immediate and future implications of the EndSARS protests, this study expands the frontiers of knowledge with a focus on EndSARS and Police brutality: Its implications on Nigerians Youths.   1.2 Statement of the Problem One of the events that accompanied the later part of year 2020 after the covid 19 pandemic and the enactment of the company and allied matters act (CAMA 2020) by the President of the federal republic of Nigeria is the uproar in the country by the citizens on the EndSARS protest. EndSARS (or #EndSARS) is a decentralised social movement against police brutality in Nigeria. It was a call for the federal government of Nigeria to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a controversial unit of the Nigerian Police with a long record of abuses. The protests started in 2017 as a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #ENDSARS to demand the Nigerian government eliminate the force which after experiencing a revitalization in October 2020, mass demonstrations were occurring throughout Nigeria in major cities, and the hashtag has had over 28 million tweets. Nigerians have shared their experiences and video evidence of how members of SARS engaged in kidnapping, murder, theft, rape, torture, unlawful arrests, humiliation, unlawful detention, extrajudicial killings, and extortion in Nigeria all over the internet and social media. SARS officers have been alleged to profile youths based on fashion choices, mount illegal road blocks and searches, conduct unwarranted temperature checks, arrest without warrant, rape women, and extort young Nigerians for driving exotic vehicles and using laptops and iPhones. All this uproar has led to killings of protesters, burning and destroying of public and private properties in the country. As the protest was at the peak of it, the Nigerian government on Sunday, 11th October 2020 announced it was dissolving SARS and to carry out a reformation of the police force to serve the citizens better. This study, therefore, seeks to ascertain EndSARS and Police brutality: Its implications on Nigerian Youths.   1.3 Research Objectives The general objective of the study is on EndSARS and Police brutality: Its implications on Nigerians Youths.

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