Nigeria Hearkens To The Call Of #EndSARS Amid Protest Against Police Brutality

by Duke Magazine

Mass protest against police brutality in Nigeria have caused the West African country to dissolve the special police force at the center of the protests. The government announced that a special presidential directive ordered the immediate dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

These protests against the squad were sparked by a video of a man allegedly being killed by the police. Since the beginning of the demonstration, they have only intensified and have since spread outside the country.

All of the officers in the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, who have been widely accused of unlawful arrests, torture, and even murder–are to be redeployed, and according to the president, a new arrangement to replace the squad is currently being worked on. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said a team of investigators would be set up to investigate the alleged abuses by the squad. Adamu said a new policing arrangement to replace the now-defunct SARS would be announced “in due course”.

“The Force is not oblivious of the ever-present need to combat armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes in the country which was before now the core mandate of the erstwhile Squad.

“A new policing arrangement to address anticipated policing gaps the dissolution of SARS would cause has been evolved and shall be announced in due course,” the IGP said.

Protesters demanded the unit be disbanded, rather than just reformed, because previous commitments to change police behavior had had no effect on their actions. President Muhammadu Buhari said earlier that he was determined to end police brutality, introduce reforms, and bring “erring personnel… to justice”.

While the closure of the Special Anti Robbery Squad is seemingly exactly what protestors wanted, there are still concerns within the country. The dissolution of SARS comes with the specification that officers from the controversial police unit will be redeployed.

Although the protests started off as a call to disband SARS, specifically, it has expanded to include the wider Nigerian police force–so simply disbanding that one unit will not be enough.

In the meantime, The United Kingdom has hailed the decision of the Federal Government in dissolving the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force.

British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, described the move as “an important first step”.

Laing, who made this known via her verified Twitter handle, @CatrionaLaing1, wrote, “Welcome the government announcement on the future of #SARS – an important first step.

“The IGP’s commitment to ensure accountability for human rights violations is essential to restoring public confidence in the Nigeria Police Force.

“Hearing reports of violence affecting ongoing protests. Urge authorities to respect the right to protest and protestors to remain peaceful.”

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