Over the last 10 days, Nigerians have been protesting against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian federal police force, after a video emerged of officers allegedly killing a man. The police unit was created in 1992 to combat armed robbery with the ‘element of surprise’.
The police unit has however evolved into a machinery for state sponsored oppression against its citizens.
Amnesty International documented at least 82 cases of torture, extrajudicial killings, extortion and rape by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020. According to their report, victims held in SARS custody have been subjected to “mock execution, beating, punching and kicking, burning with cigarettes, waterboarding, near-asphyxiation with plastic bags, forcing detainees to assume stressful bodily positions and sexual violence.” Arrests and cases are rarely investigated. Even though Nigeria criminalized torture in 2017, no SARS officer has been convicted.
The recent wave of protests against the police unit was sparked when a video of an officer killing a man surfaced. Since then there have been several protests all over the country which have been bank rolled by individuals who have provided legal support, welfare, medical assistance as well as compensation for victims affected by SARS brutality.
The peaceful protests have been met with violence at the hands of law enforcement agencies that are charged with protecting the protesters as at least 10 deaths have been recorded with several more arrested.
The Protesters have presented demands to the government which are listed below.
Interested parties can support the protests by joining the marches, sharing the hashtags on social media and donating.
May the people of Nigeria prevail against this state sponsored oppression.
Source: Washington Post