Jackie Aina unveiled her four-piece candle collection in honor of her 35th birthday and the second anniversary of her lifestyle company. She claimed that the candle collection respects and honors her Nigerian roots. However, Twitter users disagreed with the claim and felt insulted that the #ENDSARS protest was being used for profit, an event which is synonymous with most Nigerians’ recent trauma.
One candle was named “Sòrò Sókè,” a rallying cry used against the protest of police brutality in Nigeria in 2020. The phrase “Sr Sókè” conjures up images of a tragic and depressing time in Nigerian history. Many young adults and teenagers held up signs with the motto “Sòrò Sókè,” which means to speak louder or speak up, during the #ENDSARS protest, a movement against police brutality in major cities and villages in Nigeria.
The notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Nigeria had enjoyed impunity for the continuous use of torture and other ill-treatment to execute, punish and obtain information from detainees. SARS victims have been appearing in the headlines more frequently over the past few years, which has caused considerable outrage on social media and occasionally rallies.
It is imperative to add that Nigeria, a nation with many unresolved issues, has a history of protests. Three distinct waves can be identified within its extensive history of civic activity. The first wave aimed to abolish colonial rule. The second wave fought against military authority and demanded democracy. The third wave of protests—on themes of weak governance, economic fairness and austerity, and human rights—is still continuing strong, with recent years seeing an increase in the frequency of demonstrations. Of particular concern is the government’s inadequate reaction to insecurity. However, #ENDSARS was different.
In October 2020, it started from a hashtag on Twitter, and then hundreds of Nigerians took to the streets in nonviolent protest, and the movement gained momentum. Others on social media shared horrifying tales of SARS agents torturing their victims through recordings and images. #ENDSARS wasn’t just a protest, they were fighting to change the system. It was a battle for their lives as well as for justice in the murders of their peers, some of whom passed away after pleading for their deaths to be spared.
#EndSARS was a call to action and a chance for Nigerians to rebuild their country. But the #EndSARS movement was met with the same police brutality and violence it was set to fight against. At least 56 people were killed as a result of the army and police using excessive force during the massive #EndSARS demonstration. People demanded justice right away for victims who perished protesting police violence in Nigeria.
Many young Nigerians are still reeling from the government’s harsh response’s shock and aftereffects. Officials from the military have denied accusations that they murdered unarmed protestors, claiming that soldiers had merely fired blank shots. The response has increased Nigerians’ mistrust of the government.
This is a sequence of traumatic events one after the other for Nigerians. So diaspora Nigerians who have decided to use these traumatic events for business gains and profits would be called out. The social movement served as a catalyst for extensive police reform as well as a sign of optimism and progress, imparting three fundamental lessons to its members. It is important for all Nigerians, both home and abroad to keep holding the government accountable and make sure that those that died during the protests did not die in vain, rather than making light of the entire movement for business incentives, which itself is grossly insensitive.