Several people, especially those working with the Nigerian government, have tried to cast the #EndSARS protest in bad light, with some claiming that the protesters targeted President Muhammadu Buhari’s removal from office.
The #EndSARS protests was really about young Nigerians who were tired of putting up with decades of police brutality, who desperately wanted institutional reforms that could bring about a better life for all Nigerians.
We bring back some of the photos that captured the October protest – photos that remind Nigerians of what the protest was really about.
Ezinne Ugwu’s water of kindness
During the protest in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Ezinne Ugwu, one of the #EndSARS protesters, was photographed giving out bottled water to some thirsty officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The message in the photo is clear – the protest was not against Nigerian security officials as individuals, but against a corrupt and brutal institution that has turned Nigerians to perpetual victims in their own country and made life miserable for hundreds of thousands.
“It was an act of humanity, knowing that these people (security officials) are also part of us,” Ms Ugwu, a 24-year-old safety professional, said of the photo in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES.
Good deed from an officer
Obinna Simeon, a chief superintendent of police, became an instant celebrity on Twitter in October when he prevented a mobile police officer from deploying force against peaceful protesters in Jos, Plateau State.
In another instance, after the day’s protest, Mr Simeon reportedly gave some of the protesters a lift in a police truck and offered them pep talk on why they should embrace peace at all time.
When one of the Jos protesters shared Mr Simeon’s phone contact on Twitter, the officer got hundreds of thank you calls and text messages from Nigerians who were pleasantly surprised at his professional conduct.
The officer’s conduct symbolises the fact that there are good police officers out there and that there could always be a common ground between aggrieved citizens and security officials.
Everyone had a role in the historic protest
A Twitter photo of a physically challenged young woman, Jane Obiene taking part in the #EndSARS protest in Abuja, with the aid of crutches, tells a story – everyone had a role in the historic protest.
The story moved on from there to another that showed an incredible display of kindness and unity of purpose.
Kind-hearted Nigerians, prompted by a Nigerian social media influencer, Chinonso Egemba, otherwise known as ‘Aproko doctor’, contributed more than N7.5 million for a prosthetic leg for Ms Obiene – a part of the money was used to get prosthetic legs for another Nigerian, Charles Nnamani, whose prostheses were allegedly broken by a police officer during the protest.
Advocating for change comes with responsibility
The #EndSARS protesters willingly picked up thrashes and cleaned up protest grounds after every outing, quite a rare behaviour among Nigerians.
What happened here is called herd mentality, Udeme Okono, a counselling psychologist told PREMIUM TIMES.
“The whole clean up thing on the protest ground went viral when an individual who was picking garbage in Lagos was in the news. It became ‘fashionable’ for others to duplicate it across the nation,” he said.
Mothers who took their children to protest ground
Mmanti Umoh, a young woman, participated in the #EndSARS protest in Uyo with her two sons – Akaninyene and Uduakobong.
“No, I didn’t go alone,” Ms Umoh wrote on her Facebook page, October 13, after the first #EndSARS protest in Uyo.
“I took my sons with me because I will never lead a young person into a battle I cannot stake my sons in.”
She added, “May this very protest help us understand the power of people in democracy and may we not be enslaved by the people we vote to represent us.”
Ms Umoh, a management consultant and education psychologist, was later appointed as a member of the judicial panel investigating police brutality in the state.
Another woman, Edidiong Akpan, in Uyo, took her five-year-old girl, Tracy, to the protest ground.
When the photo of Tracy, waving a Nigerian flag and walking alongside other protesters, got on Twitter several people tweeted their disapproval of the kid taking part in the #EndSARS protest.
Tracy’s mother responded that her daughter needs a better future and that she (Tracy) represented “all the kids suffering on the streets due to the bad system we have in Nigeria”.
Aisha Yesufu’s iconic Twitter photo, where she stood with her legs apart and threw a fist into the air, speaks volumes about the resolve of the #EndSARS protesters.
“I will tell my children, this was our statue of liberty,” one Twitter user had said of the photo which went viral on the microblogging site.
Another Twitter user, @lolajaey, who shared the photo, described Mrs Yesufu as a “national treasure.”
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