In October 2020, Nigerian youths recently took to the streets for the End SARS campaign, a call for the disbandment of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigerian Police.
The SARS unit which was setup to tackle armed robbery in the country was known to have turned its back on its primary assignment and instead focused on young Nigerians whom it profiled as internet fraudsters or yahoo boys mostly without evidence.
The SARS men were known to kidnap young people from the streets because of their unique hairstyles and peculiar way of dressing. These officers would then illegally search their phones and sometimes plant exhibits on them just to frame them.
Sometimes these young people are driven in unmarked cars for hours by the SARS officials and are threatened to be locked up or fatally shot if they do not give into the demands of these SARS officials.
It seemed like members of SARS could not be stopped until thousands of Nigerian youths in Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Benin, Ogbomosho, Port Harcourt and other parts of the country took to the streets in a peaceful protest demanding that the government puts an end to the SARS unit.
As the End SARS campaign continued to heat up drawing the attention of international media and celebrities like Kanye West and Treysongz, casualties began to happen.
Reports of arrests and shootings of protesters began to emerge and a new set of female leaders rose up to the occasion using their connections, resources and finances to amplify their voices, cater for protesters and ensure that those arrested by police are released.
Meet 5 female heroes from the End SARS protest in Nigeria.
1. FK Abudu
Born Feyikemi Abudu, the University College London & Stanford Business School alumni was initially known as a sensational lifestyle connoisseur and podcast host. However during the END SARS protest, FK Abudu’s leadership qualities came into play as she organized a fundraiser in collaboration with Flutterwave amounting to around N16 Million which was used to provide meals, water, ambulance services & first aid to protesters across the nation.
Funds in her care were also used to sort hospital bills for victims from the protest and as donation to Jimoh Isiak’s family who lost his life during the protests. Feyikemi was also instrumental in negotiating and mobilizing for the release of those arrested and detained by the police during the END SARS protest in Nigeria.
2. Moe Odele
Known popularly as Moechievious on Twitter, the Lagos State University & Columbia Law School trained Lawyer brought in her philanthropic coat giving free legal representation to those arrested during the protests and mobilizing a network of lawyers across Nigeria to provide legal representation to protesters arrested during the protests.
In her words:
All over Nigeria right now there are protests against police brutality and I have been working with volunteer lawyers to provide legal assistance to the peaceful protesters unlawfully arrested across the country. That work has been hard. In under 24 hours, we have been able to secure the release of about 60 arrested protesters. I am exhausted to the bone and (don’t tell anyone) currently ill and on bed rest.
As the news of the final release hit me a few minutes ago, it reminded me why I wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. Sounds mushy but the events of today as unfortunate as they were took me back to the core. And at that moment I appreciated my journey so far.
3. Ayesha Yesufu
Ayesha Yusufu has always been a pro people advocate overtly criticizing the Nigerian government for what it describes as the anti people policy. She fearlessly confronted armed policemen in Abuja despite heavy barrel of ammunition that were fired at protesters in which she was a part of. Nigerians have gone from antagonizing her to recognizing her as a hero.
4. Savvy Rinu
She was a strong voice who confronted the Lagos State House of Assembly members at Alausa, Ikeja, negotiating for the rights of the people to protest.
5. Stephanie Busari
Stephanie Buhari is an international journalist of Nigerian descent. She was amongst the first to draw international attention to the ongoing protests in Nigeria.
From what we see, the future is female. Share your thoughts in the comments area below…