CLAD in a blue-grey hijab that swirls around her slim frame, Aisha Yesufu stands in defiant posture, her clenched fist raised high above her head in a clear expression of strength, resistance, and solidarity.
Behind her were a phalanx of protesters chanting “END SARS” as they displayed placards with messages calling for the dissolution of the notorious police unit, Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARSs.
The photograph, which gradually began to circulate on social media until it went viral, has become the symbol of the #ENDSARS protest, inspiring thousands of Nigerian youths to take to the streets to demand the disbandment of the police unit.
Aisha’s image has sent a message that clearly displayed the resolve and conviction of the protesters, and had garnered global attention via the #EndSARS hashtag on Twitter.
The photograph which captured the resilience of the protesters was taken by Victor Odiba, an Abuja based photographer. Several versions of the photographs have also gone viral online.
Similarly, a video of a young man shot in front of Wetland Hotel in Ughelli area of Delta State by the policemen has also gone viral on social media. Though, Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour has debunked the video, saying the victim was still alive. He insisted the boy was not shot at but only jumped down from a moving police van. Notwithstanding, the video ignited the #EndSARS campaign that has now spread to major cities in the country.
Another iconic image of the protest is that of Jimoh Atanda, 52, holding the shell casing of the police bullet that killed his son Isaiq during the protest. On Saturday, October 10, three days into the protests Isaiq, a bystander, was shot and killed in Ogbomoso, Oyo State by policemen while dispersing #EndSARS protesters. The photograph epitomises the brutality of the Nigerian policemen against which the youth are protesting.
There are many other photographs showing how the police tried to suppress the protest by beating, arresting and teargassing the protesters, but the image of an unknown protester caught in the whirl of smoke from cannister shot by the police shows the courage of the Nigerian youth.
As the #ENDSARS protests continue to spread across major cities across Nigeria, the drama of the protest takes a different turn as the visual narratives caught in the spur of the moment tells the story of patience, fearlessness, anger, kindness and dignity on display by Nigerian youths. The photograph has also gone viral on the internet.
Other iconic photographs of the protest are shared below:
The #ENDSARS protesters have also shown kindness to security operatives during the protest despite the crackdown on the protesters by the law enforcement agents.
Images of fervent patriotism also characterise the #ENDSARS protests. Youths have shown how much sacrifices they can invest to achieve a better society.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.