Protests continue across Nigeria against police brutality
More protests against police brutality and calling for the end of a controversial police unit, Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, have been taking place since the weekend and have been spreading across Nigeria.
There have been a series of protests in states like Lagos, Oyo, Kwara, Imo, and even Nigeria’s capital city Abuja.
The nationwide protests reflect rising anger and long-held demands for the dissolution of the controversial police unit.
The squad has been accused of been notorious and their notoriety as been described as one that defies human comprehension and reeks of outright incompetence, deliberate violations of human rights, extra-judicial killings, and unbridled extortion.
The recent fury was sparked after graphic footage showing officers from the SARS police unit dragging two men from a hotel in Lagos and shooting one of them in the street.
In the disturbing footage taken by visitors at a hotel and posted on to social media on Saturday, armed officers of the SARS can be seen dragging two limp bodies from the hotel compound into the street before one of the men is shot.
The video has sparked a deluge of footage and stories posted on to social media alleging recent atrocities and brutality by the notorious Sars unit, long accused of rampant abuses.
Thousands of people gathered outside to protest against the police unit’s atrocities and brutality.
In Abuja, the protesters were led by Human Rights activists, Deji Adeyanju and Aisha Yesufu, and the publisher of Sahara Reporters Omoyele Sowore.
In Lagos State, the protesters on Thursday were joined by music artistes and celebrities including Folarin Falana popularly known as Falz; and pop star, Runtown; Tiwa Savage, Paul of Psquare, Jaywon, Dremo, This is Wurld and popular Dj Spinall.
In Benin City, the capital of Edo State, youths from various groups including Coalition of Youth Groups, Civil Society Of Nigeria, and National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) marched in a peaceful protest and called for an end to harassment by members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
Also in Ilorin, Kwara State capital the protesters occupied the entrance to the Government House carrying various placards.
In Imo State, the protesters were dispersed with teargas by the officers of the Imo State Police Command.
The protesters before they were dispersed gathered around the popular Imo State University Junction in Owerri, the Imo State capital carrying placards with various inscription and chanting solidarity songs.
Protesters wielded placards with the same inscription and poured red paints on the floors to signify the blood of victims of extrajudicial killings.
On Sunday, Nigeria’s inspector of police, Mohammed Adamu, banned Sars and other “tactical” police units focused on armed crimes from stop and searches, from setting up roadblocks and said officers would always be uniformed.
The governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, promised “appropriate actions will be taken, and speedily too”. According to the police, a dedicated complaints unit has in recent years improved accountability for police abuses.
However, a history of unmet promises for change has fuelled cynicism in Nigeria and a sense that the armed police units are beyond reproach.
In 2018 Nigeria’s police chief ordered a re-organisation of Sars after similar public outrage after alleged abuses.