As protesters continue to demand an end to police brutality in Nigeria, celebrities and politicians from the world are using their platform to echo the voices of the outraged civilians. According to Reuters, the demonstrations started two weeks ago and initially focused on a police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which has been accused of extortion, harassment, torture and murders.
Although SARS was disbanded on Oct. 11, protests are still demanding for law enforcement reforms. Tensions continued to escalate in the capital, Lagos, on Wednesday when soldiers opened fire on civilians, as Blavity previously reported.
The public figures are increasing awareness to the ongoing demand for social justice and pressuring the government to make changes. Here are some of the responses:
Beyoncé provides resources
Beyoncé went to Instagram to express support for the protesters and to provide resources.
"I'm heartbroken to see the senseless brutality taking place in Nigeria. There has to be an end to SARS," the singer wrote. "We have been working on partnerships with youth organizations to support those protesting for change."
The Grammy-winning artist also said her team is working with coalitions to provide emergency healthcare, food and shelter.
"To our Nigerian sisters and brothers, we stand with you,' she said.
John Boyega says it's not just about SARS
Star Wars actor John Boyega reflected the views of the protesters when he said the issue is not only about SARS.
"I have a feeling that this is more than just SARS," he tweeted. "Nigerians want true change! They are done managing faith without practical action and we support you."
I have a feeling that this is more than just SARS. Nigerians want true change! They are done managing faith without practical action and we support you. ???????? https://t.co/FpNqb1wufa
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) October 14, 2020
Annie Olaloku-Teriba, a British-Nigerian independent researcher in London, expressed the same sentiment in a column for AlJazeera.
"First, the frustrations expressed in the streets of Nigerian cities, from Lagos to Port Harcourt to Abuja, are about far more than the crimes of a police unit," she wrote. "Second, Nigerian youth are rediscovering their power, picking up the mantle of the cultural and political resistance that in the past helped snatch the country back from the jaws of military dictatorship."
Olaloku-Teriba said the destruction caused by SARS is a reflection of the corrupt system imposed by the Nigerian ruling elite, who aim to enrich themselves illegally.
"SARS was just one of many police units used to protect the criminally rich from the consequences of the extreme poverty that surrounds them," the researcher wrote.
Rihanna shares a devastating photo to spread awareness
Rihanna shared a picture of a Nigerian flag covered in blood and described the situation in the context of global outcry for social justice.
“I can’t bear to see this torture and brutalisation that is continuing to affect nations across our planet,” the singer wrote on social media. “It is such a betrayal to the citizens, the very people put in place to protect are the ones we are most afraid of being murdered by. My heart is broken for Nigeria. It is unbearable to watch.”
— Rihanna (@rihanna) October 20, 2020
The artist's sentiment resonates with the Black Lives Matter movement in America, as well as the social unrest happening around the globe as Black communities fight against inequality. While the recent protests in America have focused on bringing justice for people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, demonstrators around the world have been fighting for Simeon Francis, Hamdi Mohamed Farah and dozens more.
Hillary Clinton pressures Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari
Hillary Clinton went to social media to address the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari.
"I’m calling on @mbuhari and the @hqnigerianarmy to stop killing young #EndSARS protesters. #StopNigeriaGovernment," Clinton tweeted.
Buhari addressed the country on Oct. 12 when he announced the end of SARS.
"The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people," he said.
The president said authorities who have committed violations will be brought to justice. He then praised a majority of the law enforcement officers and said there are only a few bad ones.
The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people. pic.twitter.com/XjQMSr3jlm
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) October 12, 2020
Odion Ighalo calls for world leaders to step up
Nigerian soccer star Odion Ighalo, who plays for Manchester United, spoke up for the people of his country. The athlete said his country's government is "a shame to the world."
"I'm not a guy who talks about politics, but I can't keep quiet anymore," he said in a video on Twitter. "You people will be remembered in history as the first government that sent military to the city to start killing their own citizens. I am ashamed of this government."
Pray for NIGERIA????????✊???? pic.twitter.com/V7i4Ngs9qd
— Odion Jude Ighalo (@ighalojude) October 20, 2020
Ighalo called on global leaders to aid in the crisis.
"And I want to call on my brothers and sisters to remain safe," the Manchester United striker added. "Be indoors please. Don't come out. Because this government, they will kill us. And they will keep killing if the world do not talk about this."