ATLANTA — “We’re here to honor the lives lost in Nigeria,” Victor Bomi told a protest outside the Nigerian Consulate here Oct. 30. “Even one Nigerian life lost is too many — too many killed by SARS, by the police, by government forces.” Thousands have marched in Nigeria in recent weeks demanding the dismantling of SARS, the acronym for the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad, hated for its use of torture, murder and illegal arrests.
Some 70 workers, students and professionals from Atlanta’s large Nigerian community attended the candlelight vigil, above, called in response to the Oct. 20 army and police attack on a protest against SARS at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, Nigeria, that killed at least 12 people and injured others. Though Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced Oct. 11 that he was disbanding the squad, few believe that will be more than a change in name.
At an open mic at the vigil, participants stressed the importance of overcoming regional, religious and tribal divisions and forging unity to build solidarity with the protests in Nigeria.
Sam Manuel brought greetings from Rachele Fruit, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate. “The courageous demonstrations in Nigeria and those here are part of a worldwide struggle of working people to change the conditions of oppression and exploitation we face,” said Manuel.
The Nigerian government claims it is investigating the Oct. 20 massacre, but on Nov. 6 the country’s central bank froze the accounts of 20 protesters. Immigration officials have confiscated the passport of at least one protest activist to prevent her from leaving the country.