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2023 Election: Nigerians on the impact of the #ENDSARS movement

A girl carries placard reading "End SARS Now" on the road to ongoing demonstration to call for the scrapping of the controversial police unit at Ikeja, on October 9, 2020.   -  
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The 2020 Endsars protest saw thousands of Nigerian youths storm the street to protest against police brutality and extrajudicial killings.

The protests across major Nigerian cities began on 4 October 2020 after a viral video showing Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) dragging two men from a hotel and shooting one of them outside. Days into the protest the SARS unit was disbanded.

The then Nigerian Police chief, Mohammed Adamu announced the disbandment of SARS on October 11 following the mass protests across the country.

During the protest two correctional facilities in Edo State South-South were attacked by the hoodlums freeing inmates.

Some public and private properties were also vandalized, while business premises were looted.

The protest turned bloody on the night of October 20 when gunmen opened fire on protesters -draped in Nigeria's flag and singing the national anthem- at the Lekki toll gate, Lagos killing and injuring some of them. The incident which was streamed live by Music Jockey DJ Switch.

Amnesty International at the time said, at least 12 people were killed in the #EndSars protests, and dozens others injured.

According to the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and other matters, at least 46 unarmed protesters were either shot dead, injured with bullets, or assaulted by security forces at the Lekki toll gate.

The record 10 million new registered voters for the February 25th and March 11th elections have been attributed to the awareness created by the movement

"From past elections, you can see that they has always been a low turnout of youth. Now they (the youths) want to change from the old order to a new order, they want to take back their country, that was why during the last voters’ registration, there Was a large turnout of youths” says Teslim Olaniran, an entrepreneur.

He continues “This has also given rise to the obidient movement (Supporters of Labour Party Candidate Peter Obi), they are now with one voice.’

Ahead of Saturday's election, Lagos residents speak on the likely impact of the Endars movement on voter turnout.

Robinson Iheme, a Lagos-based Financial Analyst is of the view that the protest was an eye-opener for Nigerian Youths.

"Before then I wasn’t as concerned as I am now. A lot of us are concerned about making a change and coming out to vote during election", said Iheme.

Precious Adams was one of the Endsar Protesters, he recalls how the movement changed his mentality towards governance.

"I am not the kind of person who talks about politics, I don’t pick interest in politics and every other thing. But after the Endsar movement, trust me, I bought into the idea, picking more interest in going into politics, creating more awareness about politics, about the election, sensitizing the youth on how to vote, things to do" Adams said.

Nigeria's electoral body, the independent national electoral commission (INEC), has said 84 percent of the 10 million registrants are aged 18 to 34, many within this age group were at the forefront of the Endsars movement.

About 93.4 million voters will take part in this weekend’s general election in Nigeria.

Africanews Correspondent in Lagos, David Taylor says these voters will determine among the Eighteen (18) Presidential Candidates who will replace President Muhammadu Buhari who is serving out his last term in office.

A former Lagos Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party‘s Atiku Abubakar who served as Vice President of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party who is a former Governor of South Eastern Nigeria State are believed to be the frontrunners in the Presidential race.

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