This study examined the use of social media during #Endsars protest in Lagos State.
The study used survey research design where data will be gathered using questionnaire as a primary source of data.
The results revealed that; social media played a significant and major role during the 2020 #Endsar protest in Lagos State; social media use brought a lot of advantages during and after the #EndSARS protest in Lagos State. Lastly, social media have a significant future role to play in Nigeria.
This study concludes that, Nigerian youth see social media as a credible medium for political discourses and it has been established that social media has enable youth turn out to be more politically active as seen during the 2020 #Endsars protest in Nigeria. The study further recommended that; the use of social media should be encouraged among the youth as it provides a platform to express their concerns to the government and as well to be heard; network service providers should reduce the cost of data services so as to encourage more youth have access to internet service and to engage in political discussion on social media; government officials who are not on social platform should ensure they create one in order to socialize with the public (audience), and to keep them updated on events happening in the society; the government of Nigeria should lift the ban placed on Twitter in order for Nigerian youths to express themselves which is a fundamental right as contained in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the issue of Twitter ban should be given adequate attention because the ban placed on Twitter as a social media platform is a source of livelihood for many youths and if the ban is not lifted.
1.1. Background to the Study
Social media use is an increasingly popular activity for most Internet users, (Filo et al., 2015). The advancement in technology and internet has exposed majority of the global population to a number of various interactive platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. through which various types of information can be exchanged, (Armstrong, Delia & Giardina, 2014). Ever since social media gained more popularity among Internet users, its effect on youths and adults cannot be underestimated, as it practically affects the way an Internet user interact, communicate and make decisions that concerns social, cultural, and political issues, as seen during the #EndSARS protest that took place in Lagos State on October 20, 2020 and across various part of Nigeria.
October 2020, Nigeria was hit by a wave of demonstrations as young individuals took to the streets of every part of Nigeria to protest against the activities of a police unit mostly known as Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigerian Police Force was set up in 1992 with the fundamental objective to combat violent crimes, (Midenda, 2017). Unlike other police officers, the operatives of SARS usually work in motifs and are very tough in their fight against organised crime, (Midenda, 2017). However, there were a lot of documented allegations of abuse ranging from extortion, kidnapping, rape and extra-judicial killings by SARS operatives (Mutum, 2018). These allegations led to the #EndSARS movement which started on Twitter in 2016 as a protest against police brutality, by Segun Awosanya, popularly known as Segalink. In recent times, there was a fresh round of protests which started on 3rd October 2020 after a video was posted on Twitter emerged which showed SARS officials killing a man and running away with his vehicle in the Delta State, Southern Nigeria. In a short time, decentralised and youth-led protests against police brutality spread within and outside Nigeria (Vincent, 2020).
The protests ended in the Lekki shootings and the Nigerian military officers have been indicted of firing at defenseless protesters. The way in which #EndSARS was used provides insight into how social media especially Twitter serves as a coordinating platform for oppositional discussion and activist campaigns in Nigeria. During the protests, Twitter was mainly used in at least three ways, which are: to coordinate protests, to strengthen the voice of the campaign across the world, and to criticize brands and public figures like celebrities and political personalities deemed to be opposed to the movement (Vincent, 2020).
Similarly, the leaders of the Nigeria Labour Union called for a protest using Twitter and on Wednesday March 10, 2021, hundreds of members of Nigeria’s main labour unions canvassed and marched to the parliament building in the capital in a protest against a possible change to the minimum wage system (Camillus, 2021). The protest had members of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), which represents millions of workers across most sectors of Africa’s biggest economy, filled streets in the capital, Abuja, in protest at the proposed move. The protest was due to the failure on the part of many Nigerian states to fulfill the minimum wages payment to civil servant (Abraham, 2021)
Besides, in March 2021, gunmen attacked the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization ‘Afaka’ in Kaduna State and abducted 39 students, (African News, 2021). This led a protest among affected parents using social media like Instagram to ensure they pass across their anger to the Nigeria government. During their demonstration, the protesters marched through the city, chanting and given speeches. Some held placards reading “Afaka Lives Matter”, while others sang “Kaduna must be free”
Twitter was actively used to post information as regards protest venues and to update protesters on breaking news events. Undeniably, without a platform like Twitter, it would not have been easy, if not impossible, for protesters to spread across the country to coordinate themselves in highly organised and effective ways and to feed off one another’s energy, (Ofori-Parku, & Moscato, 2020). Twitter users as well sought to amplify conversations around the following hashtags such as, #EndSARS, #SARSMustEnd, #EndPoliceBrutality and #EndSARSNow. A number of Twitter users went as far as releasing the phone numbers of public figures who opposed the #EndSARS movement, asking that they be bombarded with calls.
This phenomenon emphasises how Twitter was used in a diverse way by Nigerians as compared to the way and manner they use other social media platforms. And there is the recognition of the influence that Twitter has had in Nigeria as there has been barely any social media platform contesting with Twitter in hosting Nigerian conversations, whether protests, politics, rants or energising social movements, (Vincent, 2020). It is this trend that explains the way in which activist tags such as #EndSARS have been deployed on Twitter to curate social movements. It as well explains why Twitter has been used to shape other campaigns like #RevolutionNow, #BringBackOurGirls, #OpenNASS and #WeAreTired. The situation is no different for Nigerians outside the country. Twitter has been used by those in the diaspora to not just comment on the #EndSARS movement, but as well organise protests in cities like London, Berlin and Toronto.
It is based on the above background that this study seek to examine the use of social media during the #EndSARS protest in Lagos State.
1.2. Statement of Problem
The issue of #EndSARS started in the early 90s, but recently, the use of various platforms such as the social media and broadcast medium to call for its campaign was strengthened. Due to the growing and nonstop police brutality, harassment and extortion of innocent Nigerians especially the youth, and as a result, this prompted the youth to engage the use of social media last year (2020) to campaign against police brutality, which call for a protest across various part of Nigeria on October 20, 2020.
Prior to the #EndSARS movement that took place October 20 2020 across Nigeria; there had never been any youth movement as massive like that to protest police brutality in Nigeria. However, social media changed the whole perspective through Twitter #EndSARS which started on Twitter in 2016 as a protest against police brutality and other problems such as; corruption, brutality, lack of relationships with communities which at times leads to more abuse, inadequate recruitment practices, bad working conditions for the NPF, poor welfare package, among others, (Ayoyo, 2018; Ofori-Parku & Moscato, 2020). Although, Nigeria operates a democratic system of government, the abuse of power by the Nigerian Police Force and other government officials has been well documented in the country.
It is therefore based on this note that this study will seek to examine the exact roles of social media during the 2020 #Endsars protest in Lagos State; the advantages the use of social media brought during and after the #EndSARS protest in Lagos State; and the likely future roles of social media in Nigeria. Based on the above, this study therefore seeks to examine the use of social media during #EndSARS protest in Lagos State, Nigeria.
1.3. Research Questions
These research questions were posed for the purpose of this study.
- What are the roles of social media during the 2020 #Endsars protest in Lagos State?
- What are the advantages the use of social media brought during and after the #EndSARS protest in Lagos State?
- What are the future roles of social media in Nigeria?
1.4. Research Objectives
The main objective of the study is to examine the use of social media during #EndSARS protest in Lagos State. The specific objectives are to;
i. Examine the roles of social media during the 2020 #Endsars protest in Lagos State
ii. Evaluate the advantages the use of social media brought during and after the #Endsars protest in Lagos State
iii. Examine the future roles of social media in Nigeria
1.5. Research Hypotheses
Ho1: Social media played no role during the 2020 #Endsar protest in Lagos State.
Ho2: Social media use does not bring any advantage during and after the #EndSARS protest in Lagos State.
Ho3: Social media does not have any future role to play in Nigeria.
1.6. Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be of great benefit in the sense that, it will fill the existing gaps in the study by providing relevant information on the issues of #EndSARS movement in Nigeria; motivation for #EndSARS participation; and the factors that sustained it.
This study will be useful to the youth and relevant government agency in sense that, it will enlighten them on the effectiveness of social media and how it can be used to tackle crucial issues affecting the country.
Furthermore, it is believed that, the findings of this study will be relevant to the government authorities and policy makers in order to formulate policy that will guide the activities of the Nigeria Police Force
Lastly, the findings of this study would be of significance to other researchers as a secondary source of data to those who might be willing to carry out future research.
1.7. Scope of the Study
The study focused on the use of social media during the #EndSARS protest in Lagos State, Nigeria. The study is confined to youth who took part in the protest in Lagos State, Nigeria. The data for this study will be gathered using a self-structured questionnaire, which will be emphasized in chapter three of this study.
1.8. Limitation of Study
There are no limitations to the study yet.
1.9. Operational Definition of Terms
Twitter: is a microblog (social media) that enables users to read and send both current and old messages to each other, the messages are called tweets which can only contain the maximum of 140 characters.
Endsars: is a decentralized social movement and series of mass protest to stop the police brutality in Nigeria.
Social Media: is the website and application that enables users to create and share content in social networking.
Youths: is the part of life following childhood. Youth is the time of life when a young person has not become an adult.
Influence: is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.
1.10. Synopsis of the Study
This research work is divided into five main chapters with each chapter consisting of the following:
Chapter one will be the main introduction of the project and this will spell out the main aim and objectives of the research together with research background, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study, and definition of operational terms. Chapter two of this research work will have a review of the theories and literatures that are relevant to the research areas which have been carried out by various researchers in the topic area. Chapter three of this research will examine the research methodology that will be used to carry out the study, which includes that research design, population of the study, sample and sampling technique, research instrument, validity and reliability of the instrument, and method of data analysis. Chapter four will entail the analysis and interpretation of data collected from the field by the researcher. Chapter five of the study will consist of the summary, conclusion and recommendations.