• Mon. Nov 23rd, 2020

A look at the #EndSARS movement and why Nigerians are protesting against police brutality | CBC News

Byjuly

Oct 22, 2020

Nigerians protesting police brutality have been demonstrating in the streets throughout Africa’s most populous nation for 2 weeks, and the hashtag #EndSARS has been trending on Twitter even after the police promised to dismantle the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit earlier this month. 

So what’s SARS, what makes an attempt have been made to deal with police abuses in Nigeria and what do protesters need?

What is ‘SARS’?

Police shaped SARS in 1992 to deal with violent crimes equivalent to carjacking, armed theft and kidnapping. Because SARS was initially designed as a covert drive, officers didn’t put on uniforms.

The unit developed a fame for brutality, with Amnesty International accusing it of harassment, extortion, rape, extrajudicial killings and torture. Nigerians mentioned it often focused younger males with tattoos, dreadlocks or costly vehicles or telephones.

The police drive has repeatedly denied the accusations levelled in opposition to SARS, although it mentioned earlier this month that “unruly and unprofessional” officers had been arrested and had been going through disciplinary actions.

What sparked the present protests?

A video allegedly displaying SARS officers capturing a person in Delta state earlier than driving off in his automotive started circulating in early October, sparking the present protests. Police denied the incident.

Police initially responded to protests with drive, together with the usage of tear gasoline, water cannons and reside rounds. By Oct. 16, a minimum of two had been killed in Lagos and a minimum of three had been killed in Oyo state.

The violence has continued this week, with the Lagos state governor saying 30 folks had been harm at a toll gate within the Lekki district on Tuesday night, when, based on witnesses, troopers shot at protesters.

WATCH | Protest in opposition to police brutality in Nigeria turns violent:

What began as a protest in opposition to a Nigerian police squad accused of brutality turns violent after safety forces open hearth on demonstrators. 2:01

In a information launch the next day, Amnesty International mentioned its on-the-ground investigation discovered that 12 protesters had been killed by Nigerian safety forces on Tuesday in Lekki and Alausa, one other district in Lagos.

Amnesty mentioned a minimum of 56 folks have died throughout the nation because the protests started.

How has the federal government responded?

Police initially banned SARS from routine patrols and ordered members to put on uniforms. After continued protests, police mentioned they’d disbanded SARS with instant impact on Oct. 11.

President Muhammadu Buhari pledged police reform, and a federal council ordered states to arrange compensation funds for victims of police brutality.

On Oct. 13, police introduced {that a} new Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) workforce would “fill the gaps arising from the dissolution of the defunct SARS.”

Authorities in Abuja mentioned protests had been banned as a result of coronavirus issues, and in Lagos, movies circulated on Twitter of males armed with knives, golf equipment and different weapons attacking demonstrators.

Authorities imposed a statewide round the clock curfew in Lagos starting Tuesday afternoon.

A girl sporting an “END SARS” face masks speaks with the police outdoors the Nigerian Consulate throughout an illustration in opposition to Nigeria’s controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police unit in London, England, on Wednesday. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Why are protesters skeptical?

The authorities has pledged to reform, disband or examine SARS on a number of events, together with a promised 2017 Senate investigation and a 2018 overhaul and investigation.

Nigerians and observers say little has modified. Protesters say SWAT groups may merely turn out to be SARS underneath a brand new identify, they usually now carry #EndSwat indicators.

What do protesters need?

Protesters have 5 principal calls for:

  • The instant launch of all arrested protesters.
  • “Justice” for these killed by police and compensation for his or her households.
  • An unbiased physique to analyze and prosecute police misconduct inside 10 days of a declare.
  • Independent psychological analysis of disbanded SARS officers earlier than they are often redeployed.
  • Increased salaries for police so they’re “adequately compensated” for safeguarding lives and property.

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