End Sars protest outside the Nigeria High Commission, London 25 October. Photo: Shabbir Lakha End Sars protest outside the Nigeria High Commission, London 25 October. Photo: Shabbir Lakha

Hundreds of protesters marched through London to call for an end to state violence in Nigeria and for the resignation of the President, reports Shabbir Lakha

As protests in Nigeria continue to escalate and to be met with deadly violence, hundreds marched through London on Sunday in solidarity. There were several marches through the day which at one point coalesced outside the Nigerian High Commission on Northumberland Place. The protests brought together a coalition of the Nigerian diaspora and a dvierse range of people involved in or inspired by Black Lives Matter. Protests also took place over the weekend in Southampton, Reading, Birmingham, Luton, Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol, Coventry and Aberdeen.

In Lagos and across Nigeria, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in recent weeks to demand an end to police brutality after a shocking video showed police officers from the Sars unit killing an unarmed civilian. The government’s announcement to disband the unit but to set up a Swat unit instead became seen as an example of ‘bad governance’ and only inflamed the protests. The protests have developed into calling for the President to resign and become a focal point for the visceral anger against decades of corruption and growing inequality.

The protests were ignited in part by the global spread of the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer and in turn BLM protesters and supporting public figures have taken up the End Sars cause and built solidarity with it in the West. One speaker at the London protest spoke about how moved he was to see people from all ethnicities and ages stand up for Nigerians.

In Nigeria too, the protests have cut across often fraught tribal divisions and the north-south divide as a united movement of people from Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and other tribes, Muslims and Christians. 

London protesters sing-chanted the popular slogans heard in Nigeria including “solidarity forever”, and like their counterparts in Nigeria, were led by young people, particularly women. There was a recognition of Western neocolonialism enabling corrupt leaders to rule undemocratically in countries like Nigeria, selling them weapons, training their police and laundering their money; as well as the interconnectedness of police violence against black people in the West and in African nations.

The protests and their social media presence are also helping to connect with other struggles in Africa. In recent days, the End Sars movement has helped popularise “Congo is Bleeding”, drawing attention to the violent exploitation of Congolese miners – something also made possible by Western capital. Solidarity protests in South Africa became rallies against their own police violence.

Along with some still ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in the US, protests in Thailand, Chile, Colombia, Poland, Hong Kong, Lebanon and elsewhere, there is an atmosphere of revolt spreading globally.

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Shabbir Lakha

Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.