1.1 Background to the Study
Nigeria got her independence since 6 decades ago, but was however under military regime for a large portion of that time – which is the reason numerous Nigerians have gotten familiar with living in dread of abuse and oppression. However, when democracy was reestablished in 1999, an event that was supposed to herald the beginning of a new era, most Nigerians expected to at last receive the rewards of democratic rule that put them first through people-centred policies. It is a pity, this dream has largely ended up being a fantasy.
Likewise with numerous different nations and nascent democratic rule, Nigeria has needed to face various difficulties. These include unemployment and underemployment, epileptic power supply, infrastructural gaps, inadequate basic amenities, poor medical care, the absence of access to quality education and the danger presented by vicious radicalism – all in the previous decade.
These difficulties have constrained Nigerians, regularly known to be persevering and versatile, to bear these torments while looking towards the state to cater to their needs. One of the most essential duties of the state towards its residents remains the protection of lives and property. Nonetheless, the Nigerian Police Force, which is burdened with the duty of law and order, is currently seen by numerous individuals as being not able to deliver on its mandate.
The recent protest, organised by Nigerian youths across the nation's 36 states, have been an immediate reaction to police brutality. The protesters are calling for the police's notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), since quite a while ago plagued by allegations of extrajudicial violence, to be disbanded.
On 11 October, the government disbanded the unit for the fourth time in three years. What, then, do these youthful protesters want really? In fact, their campaign is demanding good governance in its broadest sense, including a complete overhaul of the country’s national security architecture. These young people have demonstrated generational leadership, and their campaign has attracted international support from figures such as Twitter's CEO, Jack Dorsey.
Truth be told, their campaign is requesting good governance in its broadest sense, including a total update of the nation's national security architecture. These youths have shown generational leadership, and their mission has pulled in global help from figures, for example, Twitter's CEO, Jack Dorsey. As almost all of the world's attention has turned towards the situations developing in Nigeria, the situation on the ground has offered an open door for both the government and the protesters to express their positions.
During the whole situation, the government gave off an impression of being unaccommodating of these generally serene fights. A few protesters were being teargassed, while others were arrested, detained, and even shot at by police – and Amnesty International claimed that 12 protesters were killed at the protest and demonstration grounds in Lagos on 20 October after the military started shooting. As opposed to break the will of the protesters, notwithstanding, this has just occasioned renewed power on their part.
The youth, with the aid of a recently formed organization called the Feminist Coalition and by bridling the intensity of social media, assembled a transparent online platform through which they give live updates of monies raised and dispensing for their cause. This added further authenticity to their cause.
The disbanding of SARS on 11 October, and its replacement with another police unit, the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT), seems to have been a disagreeable decision, as the protesters kept on protesting and demonstrating. Many have suggested that the replacement of SARS with SWAT is simply recycling the same issue and dressing it up with a different name. The new unit has, consequently, experienced a crisis of legitimacy the very beginning, to a great extent since it neglects to address the core issues at the root of police brutality in Nigeria.
Of these, the principle reason is perhaps that the Nigerian Police is underfunded and therefore lacks the requisite training and professionalism to execute its constitutional role. This has affected overall morale levels in the police force. Unless these systemic issues are addressed squarely, there is little likelihood of the police gaining the public’s trust. To reduce the tensions between the police and protesters, it is essential that any interventions address a few issues.
Going forward, it is imperative that the government seeks measures of redress, by ensuring, as a matter of urgency, that a public apology is tendered to all Nigerians, particularly the victims of police brutality and their families. Compensation ought to likewise be given to the affected, including to the families who have lost loved ones and furthermore payment for the individuals who have been hospitalized. Albeit not adequate all alone, this measure would by the way go far towards beginning the genuinely necessary healing and reconciliation process needed to restore Nigerians' trust in the ability of the state to provide their security.
The police must be properly funded, adequately equipped and training must be improved to guarantee greater professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness. These issues should be decisively looked into to as an issue of urgency and would go far towards building trust in the Nigerian Police Force. All other demands made by the protesters so far, including the release of protesters who have been arrested, compensation for families and prosecution of all individuals from the previous SARS unit found guilty, would go far in building trust and ensuring the peace cycle. Without these the protests are probably going to rage on. This study will therefore assess the role of social media in raising awareness about police brutality in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
While police brutality is as of now gathering worldwide interest, it is just one of the numerous issues that have bothered Nigerians since Buhari turned into the President in 2015. The ongoing fight is about insecurity as much for what it's worth about bad governance. Insecurity is just an impression of a system failure which has eaten deep into the clothes of the Nigerian country.
The individuals of the Nigeria Police Force are the product of a general public which has next to zero respect for societal values, yet rather regard that justice goes to the highest bidder. It is a society that is profoundly rooted in corruption, mediocrity, nepotism, unaccountability, and absence of stewardship. The 'giant of Africa' is being driven by government officials who are inept and irresponsible, yet in addition apathetic and heartless.
In search of a solution, Nigerian youths through the use of social media has played an enormous role in this fight by amplifying their voices with the trending #ENDSARS, which encouraged youth to come together and battle to disband the infamous SARS unit. They likewise sought for justice for all deceased victims of police brutality with sufficient compensation to the families and the establishment of an autonomous body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all police misconduct within 10 days.
Nigeria’s youths through the use of social media fought for peace, justice, and strong institutions which are important, because sustainable development and prosperity cannot work without peace, physical integrity, and protection by a stable legal system. Thus, this study seeks to assess the role of social media in raising awareness about police brutality in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objective of this study is to assess the role of social media in raising awareness about police brutality in Nigeria. However, the specific objectives are:
i) To examine the reasons for the violation of human rights of the citizens by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) officials of the Nigeria Police
ii) To determine how the Nigerian youths made use of social media in raising awareness about police brutality in Nigeria
iii) To examine the response of the Nigerian government in handling this issue
iv) To investigate the impacts of the protest on Nigeria as a country
v) To outline human rights solutions to the menace of police brutality in Nigeria
1.4 Research Questions
The following are some of the research questions which this study intends to answer:
i) What are the reasons for the violation of human rights of the citizens by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) officials of the Nigeria Police?
ii) How did the Nigerian youths made use of social media in raising awareness about police brutality in Nigeria?
iii) What is the response of the Nigerian government in handling this issue?
iv) What are the impacts of the protest on Nigeria as a country?
v) What are the human rights solutions to the menace of police brutality in Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following shall be the research hypotheses to be tested:
i) There is a significant relationship between police brutality and violation of human right
ii) There is no significant impact of the end SARS protest on Nigeria as a country.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study assesses the role of social media in raising awareness about police brutality in Nigeria. This study will focus on the report from various social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat and the likes on their reportage on police brutality in Nigeria and it will therefore awaken the consciousness of social media users on the importance of the use of social media in the society. Moreover, by articulating figures and revealing the experiences of Nigerians in the hands of Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and how they were treated as reported by social media, the public can understand and appreciate the seriousness of that human right violation of this Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). In addition, the study will provide adequate information to the government by revealing different cases of human right violation and the brutality of these Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) on the youths of Nigeria and as well provide necessary solutions to the government on the various ways by which justice and compensation for all who died through police brutality in Nigeria can be done and also help them to always conduct psychological evaluation and retraining of SARS operatives before they are deployed to any other police unit. Also, this study will be beneficial to students, teachers and researchers as it is a material for academic exercise; it will as well serve as a foundation upon which further research can be conducted.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study assesses the role of social media in raising awareness about police brutality in Nigeria. Several, social media in the country are reporting their coverage of issues on police brutality in Nigeria. Therefore, this study will be limited to social media of the subject matter. The study will be focusing on the coverage of police brutality in Nigeria which is a violation of human right. However, this study was particularly focused on cases physical assaults (police killing Nigerians unlawfully and also unlawfully obtaining money from innocent Nigerians) as reported by various social media.
1.8 Limitation of the study
The researcher was faced with only the challenge of time and was because the time for carrying out this study clashed with the school calendar of the researcher and this proved difficult as the researcher had to forgo lectures to carry out this study.
1.9 Operational Definitions of Terms
The following terms were used in the course of this study:
Coverage: the process of reporting various cases of domestic violence like physical assault, rape, nagging etc. through newspapers like The Punch and Vanguard.
End SARS: End SARS is a decentralised social movement, and series of mass protests against police brutality in Nigeria. The slogan calls for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious unit of the Nigerian Police with a long record of abuses.
Police Brutality: a general term that encapsulates different types of human rights violations by police in the course of their duty. The manifestation of police brutality occurs in different forms such as unlawful killing, torture, discrimination, and unlawful use of force.
SARS: The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was a branch of the Nigeria Police Force under the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID). It was founded in late 1992 as one of the 14 units in the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, which was established to detain, investigate, and prosecute people involved in crimes like armed robbery, kidnapping, and other violent crimes.
Social media: It refers to a web based services that allow the individuals to construct a public or semipublic profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection and view, and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.