| 19 May 2024, Sunday |

Nigerian model uses Russian beauty pageant as a platform to protest police brutality

Walking down the runway during a beauty pageant in Russia, Nigerian student and model Victoria Chiamaka Udeh was branding her country’s red-stained flag, only thinking about how young people lost their lives during the #EndSars protests in Nigeria last year.

She used the Miss Africa Russia platform to make a statement about the anti-police brutality demonstrations that struck her country last year in October. CNN quoted her saying, “I felt like ‘right now I don’t care about what the judges think about what I’m doing.’ What mattered to me was using the platform that Miss Africa Russia had given me to pass a message”.

The police brutality is now being investigated by a judicial panel, which has been set up by the authorities.

The Nigerian army had admitted to having in possession both live and blank bullets when they were deployed to protests at Lekki toll gate on October 20. The admission was seen as a confirmation of a key finding of a CNN investigation into the shooting incident.

Brig. Gen. Ahmed Taiwo in his testimony to the Lagos Judicial panel of inquiry into the incident, said, “The soldiers were given both live and blank bullets. In this particular case, we saw that these protests had been infiltrated by some hoodlums”.

As per Udeh, she used the platform to “break beauty stereotypes”. Speaking with CNN, she said, “At that time, I wasn’t comfortable with my skin because I had a lot of acne all over my face. So, I wanted to prove to myself and people like me that I can break beauty stereotypes and that the flaws on my skin are part of what makes me perfect”.

In a video from the event that struck social media, the model could be seen dressed in Nigeria’s green and white colours, while she is holding the red-splashed flag.

She said the banner symbolized the blood of young protesters who lost their lives last year.

While she did not win the competition, she was rated top in the “people’s choice” category by the organizers.

Udeh said that wearing the colours made her “very emotional”.

“I did that for a good cause. We need to be safe in our country and not losing lives every day. It was just a call to the Nigerian government to address the country’s security issues,” she said.