Nigeria dissolves controversial police unit accused of brutality

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Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police said the special anti-theft squad, known as SARS, would be disbanded, according to a police statement.

“The IGP MA Adamu … today, October 11, 2020, dissolved the special anti-theft brigade (SARS) through the 36 commands of the state police and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)”, a a statement from police spokesman Frank Mba said.

All SARS officers are being redeployed with immediate effect, Mba added.

However, while the news was welcomed by the jubilant protesters, they vowed to continue to demonstrate their demands to end police brutality in all its forms and to hold rogue agents accountable.

Before the decision to dissolve SARS was announced, one man died and several others were injured when Nigerian police fired live ammunition and tear gas at youths protesting against the unit.

The man was named Jimoh Isiaka and his death was confirmed by the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde.

“I received with deep sadness the news of the death of one of our children, Jimoh Isiaka, who was shot dead during the ENDSARS demonstration in Ogbomoso,” Makinde said on Saturday. “He later died at Bowen University Hospital, Ogbomoso…” he added in the Twitter statement.
Five others were also injured in the state and taken to hospital, according to the governor.

Protesters in Nigeria’s capital Abuja also reported that police were using water cannons and firing live ammunition during a march on Sunday afternoon.

The nationwide protests were the culmination of weeks of anger and online outcry from young people across the country over charges of kidnapping, harassment and extortion by SARS.

The #EndSars hashtag has been trending around the world since Friday and Nigerians are using it to share videos and footage of police using water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters.

A woman who was in the Abuja march on Saturday, where tear gas was also used, told CNN the protests were peaceful until police started shooting at protesters.

Ndi Kato, 31, said: “Nobody threw anything or did anything wrong. No one was belligerent, but the police kept threatening us. ”

Solidarity protests were held Sunday in the UK, led by actor John Boyega, and in Washington DC, US. Both countries have large populations of Nigerian immigrants.

Amnesty International said it documented 82 cases of police brutality in Nigeria between 2017 and 2020.

Those detained by SARS have been subjected to methods of torture, including hanging, mock executions and sexual violence, according to Amnesty.



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