By Lethbridge Herald on October 23, 2020.
As violence continues in their home country, a local group is lending its voice from a distance to end the injustice.
Members of the Lethbridge Nigerian Association gathered at Lethbridge City Hall Friday afternoon for a peaceful protest against the ongoing unrest in Nigeria as locals are protesting against police brutality of the Nigerian Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit, an unmarked police force created to deal with violent crimes.
“Today we’re protesting to end police brutality and a call to the end of SARS,” said Osaro Egharevba, president of the Lethbridge Nigerian Association. “SARS is a temporary squad unit of the police. There has been a lot of injustice and we’re just demanding total economic emancipation and freedom of all the Nigerian youths.”
SARS has been accused of several crimes such as harassment, extortion, rape, extrajudicial killings and torture.
Protests began two weeks ago in Nigeria following the release of a video, allegedly of SARS officers, shooting a man in Delta state, then driving off with his car.
Amnesty International has reported the response to protests in Nigeria has been met with violence from the Nigerian security forces in regions of the country.
On Friday afternoon, Egharevba led the Lethbridge Nigerian Association in the singing of Nigeria’s national anthem as well as naming and paying tribute to those who have lost their lives in the protests.
After their peaceful protest inside city hall, the members headed outside into the cold and blowing snow to continue voicing their message.
Egharevba said the protests against the violence in Nigeria are taking place world-wide.
“It’s a global phenomenon right now. It started back home from our motherland in Nigeria. It was a peaceful protest until the military decided to open fire on the youths back home. Then it just went from there and escalated from there. There are protests all around the world from Africa to Europe and now North America. They started (about) two weeks ago and have been ongoing. They’ve been peaceful until the government decided to give a negative reaction.”
Now, the hope is to pass on the message world-wide to stop the killing of Nigeria’s youth.
“Our youth are the future, they are tomorrow,” said Egharevba.
“If the government could listen, because we are here, there is not much we can do because we’re not at the forefront of the fight. The least we can do right here is make our voice heard. The youth back home don’t need to beg for their fundamental rights. I think every human being deserves that. That’s why we’re protesting.”
Egharevba said members of the Lethbridge Nigerian Association have been in contact with family members in Nigeria.
“We still have siblings, mothers, fathers, uncles and nieces over there,” he said. “We are still connected. We are body and soul back in Africa. So we get in touch with everyone who we are related to or are friends. We have been in contact with many people.”
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