ENDSARS PROTEST AND THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA: IMPLICATION ON YOUTH DEVELOPMENT IN RIVERS STATE

ABSTRACT
This study examined EndSars protest and the role of social media: implication of youth
development in Rivers state. this study aims to investigate how Nigerians use social networking
sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp as a platform to reach out to the world
and Nigeria government to create awareness on police brutality in Nigeria which started with
their request to End SARS (Special Anti-robbery Squad) department. The research used two
research methods: Quantitative research approach and Cross-sectional survey method. The
convenience sampling technique was used, the study also employed. Primary Data were
collected from people with Google form to know the level of their involvement in the campaign
and their view on what impact did social media had on creating the awareness. 200 people filled
the forms. Therefore, the sample size was exactly 200. The findings indicate that the integral
factor that helped in notifying the general public and pushed the government into taking fast
action on the matter was social media, from where we know that it was the involvement of social
media in the campaign that made the awareness to spread at the speed of light, and made the
Nigerian Police to take responsibility of their actions, which might not have been so, if it's
through traditional means. This study differs from past research as it focus on the involvement of
the people and the role social media platform(s) played in creating the awareness.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the study
End SARS is a decentralized 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 (Kingsley, 2017). The protests
which take its name from the slogan started in 2017 as a Twitter campaign using the hashtag
#ENDSARS to demand the disbanding of the unit by the Nigerian government (Salaudeen,
2017). After experiencing a revitalization in October 2020 following more revelations of the
abuses of the unit, mass demonstrations occurred throughout the major cities of Nigeria,
accompanied by vociferous outrage on social media platforms. Over 30 million tweets bearing
the hashtag have been accumulated on Twitter alone (Kazeem, 2020). Solidarity protests and
demonstrations by Nigerians in diaspora and sympathizers occurred in many major cities of the
world. The protest is notable for its patronage by a demographic that is made of entirely young
Nigerians.
Police brutality or excessive use of force by law enforcement can be legally defined as a civil
rights violation, where law enforcement officers exercise due force against a subject (Salaudeen,
2017). Use of torture as interrogative technique and other wanton abuses of human rights remain
some of the major flaws of the Nigeria Police Force which has attracted public odium,
opprobrium, and condemnation to the Force. Torture, described as one of the most extreme
forms of violence, resulting to both psychological and physical consequences is sometimes
considered as an indispensable interrogation mechanism for gathering strategic intelligence.

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” (Salami, 2019). He admonished the SARS personnel to
always respect the right of every Nigerian, noting that this was the way they could change the
negative public perception about them. Protests against police brutality previously have arisen in
Nigeria, as advocates and researchers have documented extensive evidence of human rights
abuses by SARS officers and other NPF personnel (Ross, 2015). 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. The #EndSARS movement began in 2017, as Nigerians
shared experiences of police brutality via social media and demonstrated in several cities to call
for SARS’s dissolution. In response to those protests, the government pledged an “immediate
reorganization” of SARS and an investigation into allegations against the unit. Reported abuses
nevertheless persisted; in June 2020, Amnesty International concluded that SARS officers
continued to commit extensive human rights violations and that impunity remained pervasive.
The 2020 #EndSARS protests have been noteworthy for their size, duration, and reach.
Demonstrations began in early October and intensified as celebrities all over the world expressed
support for the protesters and as a government crackdown on marchers in mid-October provoked
further demonstrations. Many activists deemed the disbanding of SARS on October 11 as
inadequate, comparing it to past reforms that broadly failed to curb SARS misconduct, some also
have called for broader governance improvements (Roberts, 2020). As unrest has continued,
Governors in several states have imposed curfews or banned protests. On October 20, army and

police reportedly used live fire to disperse demonstrators in the Lekki and Alausa areas of Lagos,
Nigeria’s commercial capital, killing several and injuring hundreds. Various world leaders
criticized the crackdown; on October 22, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo condemned “the
use of excessive force by military forces who fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos” calling
for Nigerian security services to “show maximum restraint and respect fundamental rights and
for demonstrators to remain peaceful (Paquette, 2020). International bodies and personalities
tend to hear of this brutality in real time, because the awareness was created through social
media which might have taken longer time for them to get to know of the occurrence if the
awareness is to be created through traditional news media, as most of these international bodies
might not watch our local news media.

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 the role social media played in the 2020 EndSARS protest towards the reformation of
police force in Nigeria.

1.3 Objective of the study
The primary aim of this study is to examine EndSars protest and the role of social media:
implication on youth development in Rivers state. Specifically, the study seeks to:
1. Find out how social media contributed to the 2020 EndSARS protest in Nigeria.
2. Examine the level of impact of Social media to Police Brutality awareness
3. Ascertain if social media played a significant role in the reformation of police in Nigeria.
4. Examine the impact of the End SARS protest on social media

1.4 Research Questions

1. How have social media contributed to the 2020 EndSARS protest in Nigeria?
2. What is the level of impact of Social media to Police Brutality awareness?
3. Has social media played a significant role in the reformation of police in Nigeria?
4. What is the impact of the End SARS protest on social media?

1.5 Significance of the study
This study will help government and policymakers align and realign laws and policies to fit into
the demand of the populace to create an environment that will promote and protect the rights of
the citizens, rule of law, protection of lives and properties as stated as the major function of the
security personnel and restrict the abuse of power of security personnel in the country.
This study will be of benefit in the aspect of History, as it will the future generation know what
happened in the year 2020 in the #EndSARS protest. This study will also assist in creating
awareness on police brutality, not just in Nigeria but in the global setting. This study will further
enlighten citizens about their fundamental human rights, such as freedom of speech and so on.
This study will also portray the effect the #EndSARS protest as caused on the Nigerian economy.
Furthermore, it will show the need for the Nigerian Government to listen to the pleas of her
citizens.
Lastly, this study will add to the existing literature of the subject “#EndSARS protest”.
Therefore, this study will serve as reference materials for further studies.

1.6 Scope of the study

This study is limited to the contribution of social media to the 2020 EndSARS. The study also
analyzes the implication on youth development. The study is restricted to Rivers state.

1.7 Definition of terms
Social media: Social media are forms of electronic communication that facilitate interactive
social networking base on certain interests. Social media include web and mobile technology. It
is a group of internet-based applications that builds on the ideological and technological
foundations of Web 2.0 and allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.
Internet: The Internet can be defined as interconnected computer networks that use the standard
internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide. It consists of millions of private,
public, academic, business, and government networks that range from local to global scope that
are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies.
Media: media are all those media technologies that are intended to reach a large audience by
mass communication. They are messages communicated through a mass medium to a number of
people. According to “Wikipedia” Media are the communication outlets or tools used to store
and deliver information or data. The term refers to components of the mass media
communications industry, such as print media, publishing, the news media, photography,
cinema, broadcasting, and advertising.
Reformation: making changes to something with the intention of setting it back on the right
path.

SARS: The Special Anti-Robbery Squad was a Nigerian Police Force unit created to deal with
crimes associated with robbery, motor vehicle theft, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and firearms.
Protest: a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something.

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