Many celebrities are using their platform to speak out about the tragedies taking place across Nigeria right now, as SARS (the Special Anti-Robbery Squad) stand accused of shooting and killing peaceful protestors (and wounding multiple others). Widespread protests began two weeks ago after a video circulated showing a man allegedly being badly beaten by SARS officers – those peacefully demonstrating say they're hoping to bring change against police brutality, sparking the #EndSARS movement.
SARS were established in 1992 to tackle crimes such as robberies and those related to firearms, but have since been routinely accused of having controversial links to illegal activities, extrajudicial killings and episodes of torture.
Further footage of what appears to be police-inflicted violence in Nigeria is becoming increasingly widely shared and Amnesty International have said there's "credible but disturbing evidence" security forces in Lagos (Nigeria's biggest city) are responsible for fatally shooting [at least] ten protesters. Amnesty also said, "The police have been responding [to peaceful protests] with excessive force, including firing live ammunition, water cannon, throwing tear gas into crowds, beating and arresting protesters. Journalists have also been beaten and their filming equipment confiscated or destroyed."
Here are eleven celebrities trying to raise awareness about the situation in Nigeria right now.
1) Burna Boy
Nigerian singer and Location rapper, Burna Boy (real name Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu), has been vocal on social media about the devastation sweeping through his home country. On Twitter he said he'd tried to send medical help to those in need, but his ambulance was turned away by government officials: "You turned away ALL Ambulances including Mine. YOU blood suckers." Burna Boy has also been sharing many of the videos and images claiming to show injured protestors, or misconduct from SARS (warning: many are extremely graphic).
You turned away ALL Ambulances including Mine. YOU blood suckers.
— Burna Boy (@burnaboy) October 21, 2020
Also taking to social media, Rihanna wrote a message on her Instagram Stories which she also shared on Twitter. She shared her moving words alongside a harrowing tribute of a blood-stained Nigerian flag: "I can't bare to see this torture and brutalisation that is continuing to affect nations across this planet! It's such a betrayal to the citizens, the very people put in place to protect are the ones we are most afraid of being murdered by!" The Fenty designer added, "My heart is broken for Nigeria man!! It is unbearable to watch. I'm so proud of your strength and not letting up on the fight for what's right! #EndSARS."
The Lion King star shared a moving statement on Instagram: "I am heartbroken to see the senseless brutality taking place in Nigeria. There has to be an end to SARS. We have been working on partnerships with youth organizations to support those protesting for change. We are collaborating with coalitions to provide emergency healthcare, food and shelter." Beyoncé continued, "To our Nigerian brothers and sisters, we stand with you. Please visit Beyonce.com for a list of organisations to show your support."
4) Naomi Campbell
Also sharing a haunting image of a blood-stained Nigerian flag, the supermodel petitioned the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari. "President @muhammadubuhari, please stop the violence that is killing the Bright and promising future of Nigeria. Our youths and young generation are our leaders of the future. Show the world who are watching... BE THE HEAD OF STATE THAT SETS AN EXAMPLE! #ENDSARSNOW 💔🇳🇬🦅 ."
5) Anthony Joshua
Boxing champion Anthony Joshua, who has Nigerian heritage, shared a video in which he offers aid to hospitals urgently tending to the injured. "Even though I'm not there with you in the physical, we've been making some tangible efforts to try and support your protest on the ground... things are heating up and tensions are high, but in my prayers at night, I'm praying for peace and positivity." He added that at times, he's remained silent while learning about issues impacting Nigeria to avoid being misquoted, but that behind the scenes he's working hard to provide aid and has plans to visit the country soon.
6) Odion Ighalo
The Manchester United player has been praised for turning attentions towards the conflicts playing out in his home country. "I'm not the kind of guy that talks about politics, but I cannot keep quiet anymore for what is going on back home in Nigeria," he said in a new video. "I am ashamed of this government, we are tired of you guys and we can't take this anymore. I'm calling the UK government, calling all those leaders in the world... please see what is going on in Nigeria, please help the poor citizens."
7) Nicki Minaj
Nicki, who recently gave birth to her first child, tweeted, "Standing with & praying for the brave young people of Nigeria who are on the front lines of this senseless violence. Your voice is being heard."
8) John Boyega
The Star Wars actor, who passionately spoke at Black Lives Matter protests over the summer, said of the travesty: "I don’t know what to say. To wage such war on your own people…They must pay." Later adding on his Instagram Stories, "The world must see. The Nigerian government has failed its people. THEY MUST GO."
9) Chance The Rapper
The musician urged the world to sit up and take note, referencing the killings in Lekki specifically. "There is a massacre happening in Lekki. Firing squads mass murdering young people in Nigeria. The world needs to engage #endSARS."
The GRAMMY Award winner shared details for a candlelit vigil in LA, in memory of those slain at SARS protests, as well highlighting issues in other African countries, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "There’s a crisis on the continent. The people on the ground in Africa need your support and solidarity. Indeed colonialism is everywhere therefore Black Lives Matter everywhere... I’ve tagged a few accounts that you can pay attention to & find out what’s happening, if you are on the same page as me... also feel free below to add leaders in the communities and tag your friends who are organising and helping people on the ground in diff countries. #AfricaUnite #ThePowerIsWithThePeople #ANewTime #ANewDay."
11) Uzo Aduba
Alongside sharing a video explaining the situation in Nigeria (in which she can be seen referencing the first wave of anti-SARS protests in 2017), the Orange Is The New Black star wrote: "Enough is enough! We are united and stand in solidarity as one Nigeria. This is a chance to redefine our future and we join the call for the Nigerian government to act now to create a country that we all can be proud of."
View the important video here:
12) Jackie Aina
Phenomenally popular beauty blogger Jackie also appears in the above video with Uzo Aduba. She shared it on her own social media channels, along with the names of many victims: "I don’t know how else to say this but I don’t know how anyone who follows me can see what is happening in Nigeria and not feel compelled to share. Nigerians are literally fighting for their lives. Initially what started with peaceful protests to end police brutality in Nigeria has ignited much larger conversations and much more. NIGERIA NEEDS HELP and has needed help for a long time."
She continued, "No more people should have to die for BASIC human rights. It makes me sick that the government in Nigeria would much rather inconvenience an entire country and pushback on the demands instead of doing the right thing. Nigerians deserve a better Nigeria, point blank period. There is just....a lot. A lot more that I can’t convey on this post but if you remember anything, remember that Black Lives Matter all the time, Nigerian Lives Matter too, and when we say Black Lives we MOST CERTAINLY do not and will not exclude the LGBTQ community from this conversation, no matter how much the nation may try to!"
The rapper, who won Best Album at The BRITs earlier this year, joined thousands tweeting out their support. He wrote, "THEY ARE KILLING OUR PEOPLE. OUR HEARTS ARE HEAVY. #EndSARS"
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