On the 20th of October 2020, ongoing protests against police brutality resulted in the shooting of protestors at the Lekki Toll Gate, Nigeria. The protests in Nigeria were led and driven by young people, university students and recent graduates, some of which were my acquaintances and friends. It was personally inspiring to see the youth of Nigeria rally behind a noble cause with such tenacity and vigour. It was personally heartbreaking to see the response to such political participation be the despotic and murderous use of military force.
There have been cries from everyday citizens across the world against the brutality of their municipal police forces, and as a Union with a global membership, we have always been supportive of movements which aim to bring an end to police brutality and protect essential freedoms.
I would like to take this opportunity to express to my fellow Nigerian students at UCL my deepest condolences and sympathy. I know how you feel. I know the toll that events like this can take on your mental health. If like me, you still have family in Nigeria, it can be even more worrying. If you have friends who participate in the protests, it can be particularly stressful. If you care for the common dignity of Nigerians and their right not to be treated brutally by the police, it is utterly heartbreaking. I urge you to protect your mental health and wellbeing. Refer to the resources we have listed below. Keep in touch with your friends and family.
And above all, now more than ever, we stand in solidarity with all people and all movements who fight against police brutality, and particularly those in Nigeria and the #EndSARS movement.
If you’ve been affected by this incident:
Our Advice Service can support you with academic, housing or employment issues.
If you need further support, Nafsiyat offers intercultural therapy in London.
Read the Nigerian Feminist Coalition statement condemning the violence.
Read a detailed timeline of the Lekki Toll Gate massacre on the Amnesty International site
A background to SARS via the BBC News Service in Nigeri
Jim Onyemenam, Postgraduate Students Officer
Yasmeen Daoud, Welfare and International Officer