#EndSARS, the Media and Nigerian Government: It is Complicated

#EndSARS, the Media and Nigerian Government: It is Complicated

For years, Nigerians have endured all forms of uncivilized behaviour of Police Officers across the country. Some days ago, a number of youths started protesting against police brutality. From the southern region to the northern region, the narrative has been that police officers attached to the Special Anti-Robber Squad have maimed and killed several people unjustly.

These youths, according to available information, employed protest instrument when it is obvious that recommendations of previous reports of panels on the Nigeria Police reforms are not implemented. In one of our previous analyses, factors that contributed to the inability of the recommendations have been documented.

At the early stages of the protests, the youths received support of people [locally and internationally] and businesses. Information indicates that Nigerian companies and individuals raised funds for the protesters. For example, Flutterwave received N10,262,703, $6,040, £583, CAD1,300, GHS715, AUD105, ZAR400, EUR675, CZK500, and AED100 from companies. With the financial and kind supports, an online news medium says “the #EndSARS campaign has shown the power of the Nigerian youths. Much more, it has shown the possible impact of collaboration among the Nigerian business community. It was pretty spontaneous, but the organization has been impressive and the impact is unprecedented.”

Having seen the impacts on the economy and how the global community is supporting the youths cause, the Nigerian government through the Nigeria Police Force announced the disbandment of the SARS with the assurance of dealing with the past cases of brutality by the Police Officers. Lagos, as the epicentre of the protests, also announced some strategic measures to calm the protesting youths.

However, the protests have been hijacked by political thugs and hoodlums. Consequences of the hijack are being felt in Lagos, where a number of private and public property have been set on fire.

As the tension increases in Lagos and other parts of southern Nigeria, our analyst examines Nigerian Twitter community and the conventional newspapers’ place in the protests. From over 136,000 used by those protesting on the Twitter, more than 9,000 words were used to explicate the protests and the issues associated with governance in the country. endsars and endswat were the predominantly used words. These words strategically connected with #endpolicebrutalityinnigeria.

Looking at the media coverage of the protests, analysis shows that Sahara Reporters and Daily Post have deployed more words for the reportage on their home pages [websites] than other newspapers. Apart from employing generic words for the coverage, the two newspapers have equally employed the protests’ hashtag [#EndSars] than other newspapers [see Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2].

Now that the protests have led to casualties on both sides [the government and the protesters], our analyst notes that the media need to deescalate issues with the tendency of increasing aggression from any side. The media also need to pay attention to the illustrations and images that would be used to portray the two dominant actors.

Exhibit 1: Word Adequacy Frame

Source: Nigerian Newspapers, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 2: Us [Protesters] versus Them [Government] Game Over #ENDSars Protests

Source: Nigerian Newspapers, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

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