Since early October, citizens in Nigeria have been protesting police brutality and calling for a ban of the policing unit: the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which has long been accused of violent harassment of citizens, according to The Wall Street Journal. Tragically, on the evening of October 20, circumstances turned violent when security forces fired live rounds on demonstrators, killing several people. Now, celebrities and public figures across the globe are using their platforms to call attention to the conflict.
On the morning of October 21, Beyoncé took to her Instagram account to lend her voice to the cause. “I am heartbroken to see the senseless brutality taking place in Nigeria. There has to be an end to SARS,” the singer wrote. The artist also revealed that she has been “working on partnerships with youth organizations to support those protesting for change. We are collaborating with coalitions to provide emergency healthcare, food and shelter. To our Nigerian sisters and brothers, we stand with you.”
Citizens of the African country began rallying around the hashtag #EndSARS after video surfaced of a SARS officer shooting a man in Delta state before fleeing the scene, according to The Wall Street Journal. Since protests began in early October, millions have answered the call and stood in solidarity with the movement. See the messages from stars and public figures speaking out against the brutality Nigerian protesters are facing.
Joining Beyoncé’s call to action was rapper Nicki Minaj. “Standing with & praying for the brave young people of Nigeria who are on the front lines of this senseless violence. Your voice is being heard,” the new mother tweeted on October 20, as the events were unfolding. She also added the hashtag “End SARS” following her message of solidarity.
Just like Beyoncé and Nicki, Rihanna also used her social media to draw attention to the violence Nigerian citizens are facing. The singer and mogul shared an image of a blood-stained Nigerian flag, along with a fervent message. “I can’t bare to see this torture and brutalization that is continuing to affect nations across our planet,” she wrote. “It’s such a betrayal to the citizens, the very people put in place to protect are the ones we are most afraid of being murdered by!”
Like Beyoncé, Rihanna confessed that her “heart is broken” over what is unfolding, calling the images coming out of the country “unbearable to watch.” Rihanna closed her message by saying she is “so proud of your strength and not letting up on the fight for what’s right,” aiming her message at the protesters in Nigeria.
Star Wars alum John Boyega, who made an impassioned speech during Justice for Black Lives protests in June, used his Twitter platform as a means to share information about the conflict in Nigeria, as well as a message supporting protesters. “As wayward leaders run to western lands, Nigerians in the diaspora will be here to welcome you. You will not get comfort here,” his tweet read. He also added the hashtags “end police brutality in Nigeria,” “end bad governance in Nigeria,” and “end SARS.”
Odion Jude Ighalo
Across the ocean, Manchester United soccer player Odion Jude Ighalb shared a video message with his over 745K Twitter followers. “I don’t know where to start from,” Odion said, clearly emotional. “I’m not one to talk about politics, but I can’t keep quiet anymore [about] what is going on back home in Nigeria,” he said.
Odion called out the Nigerian government for using violent force while the citizens are “protesting for their rights.” The athlete confessed that he was “ashamed of this government.” He called on the international governments, as well as the United Nations to take action, then shifted his message back to his “brothers and sister back home…remain safe…God bless you all.”
Former United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, also shared an earnest message on her Twitter account. “I’m calling on [Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria] and the [Nigerian Army] to stop killing young #EndSARS protesters,” she wrote, adding the hashtag “stop Nigerian government.”
Finally, Idris Elba took to his own Instagram in a rare post to address the tragedy of the conflict. “Calling on Africans to unite in protest against what is happening on Nigerian soil,” the actor captioned an emotional video message to his followers. “The leadership of other African nations need to make their voices heard for the protesters of SARS,” he continued.
“From one leader to another, show them some perspective on the way they are handling the youth, IT IS WRONG and should be met with HEAVY criticism and positioning. AFRICA should not turn its back on this situation, the WORLD LEADERSHIP should not turn its back on this situation. Use your power and reach to influence the Nigerian government to govern this situation better and not spill blood.”
Renowned and respected hip hop artist Missy Elliott joined the chorus of celebrity voices advocating for the protesters in Nigeria on October 20, as well. She shared a black and white video of hand writing the words “end SARS now!” Missy Elliott also added a caption to her video. “Prayers for our Brothers & Sisters & all they are going through,” she wrote, adding, “Praying for STRENGTH/HEALING.”
Like so many other artists, Big Sean also lent his voice to support the protesters in Nigeria. On October 20, the rapper left a stirring, emotional message on his Twitter account. “Nigeria!!! Y’all on my heart,” he wrote. “It’s horrific over there! So many people being murdered for peaceful protesting about being murdered!” He also added the hashtag “end SARS.”
The 50-year-old supermodel made a tearful plea via an Instagram live session on Oct. 21. “Innocent people are being killed in Nigeria for just singing national anthems and being taken. This is like a modern day genocide. And we should not shut up about it until there is a change. There needs to be a change,” she demanded while weeping. “Africa is an incredible and beautiful continent, and we are not to be ignored. We are to be treated fairly.” She then called on the United Nations, UNESCO and Amnesty International to step in and help the situation. “Don’t let this happen. The youth are our future, they’re our next generation of leaders” Naomi pleaded.