US rapper Kanye West has joined a growing list of international celebrities speaking out in support of large protests against police brutality in Nigeria.
“I stand with my Nigerian brothers and sisters to end police brutality; the government must answer to the peoples cries #EndPoliceBrutalityinNigeria,” West tweeted.
Celebrities including singer Trey Songz, real name Tremaine Aldon Neverson, former Manchester United defender, Rio Ferdinand and ‘Star Wars’ actor John Boyega, are also among those showing support to those protesting the disbandment of the controversial police unit in Nigeria.
The protests in cities across Nigeria came after weeks of outcry online from young Nigerians over claims of kidnapping, harassment, killings, brutality and extortion by the police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Demonstrations continued after the inspector general of police announced Sunday that the unit was being disbanded and its officers redeployed.
Using the hashtag #EndSARS on social media, international celebrities joined Nigerians in the campaign to end police brutality in all its forms.
“Police brutality here in America often is an abuse of power driven by race. To be brutalized, extorted, and murdered by your own people is unimaginable. Prayers up and I’m researching ways I can help. #EndSARS,” Trey Songz also tweeted.
Similarly, American gospel singer Kirk Franklin, using the photo of one of the Nigerian protesters, issued a message of support on Instagram:
“For over 20 years, Nigeria stood with me, now I stand with you. #endsarsnow.”
Over the past weekend, the Nigerian diaspora community also organized protests in solidarity with their counterparts at home.
On Sunday, #EndSARS protests took place in Canada, England, Germany and the United States.
Fakhriyyah Hashim, one of the protesters in London, told CNN that the aim of the protest was to encourage the diaspora community in England to financially support protesters in Nigeria so that they can keep their protests running.
Afrobeat stars Wizkid and Mr. Eazi also attended the London protest.
While addressing the crowd, Mr. Eazi, said that he had personally been stopped and harassed by SARS officers.
“None of us are safe if we continue to stay in the comfort of our homes allowing people to speak and say it does not affect them,” he said in a video.
“This is just the beginning!! We won our fight to #ENDSARS .. now Reform the Nigerian police!! #Endpolice brutality! We deserve good governance! #Endpolicebrutality,” Wizkid tweeted on Sunday.
Protesters similarly gathered on Sunday and Monday chanting “End SARS” at Queen Street in Toronto, Canada.
Blessing Timidi Digha, one of the protesters who was present on both days, told CNN the demonstrators’ demands included justice for those brutalized by the police unit, reform of the police force and an end to all forms of police brutality.
“We hoped to share our personal experiences in the hands of SARS and the police, to join our colleagues back home in demanding for the dignity of the Nigerian life,” Digha said.