Nationwide protests over police brutality have raged through Nigeria, following desperate cries of help of kidnapping, abuse and violence by a controversial police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Protests turned dangerous after many protesters were shot in the city of Lagos on Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Chaos and violence have overtaken the streets as many protesters fight for the reform of the entire police force despite being told the SARS unit will disband and its officers will be redeployed.
According to Amnesty International reports, SARS is known to have a large contribution to the country’s most serious crimes such as assault, kidnapping, robbery and murder. After a months-long social media campaign in January 2019, the #EndSARS movement resulted in minor reforms within the unit.
In mid-2020, 82 documented cases of police brutality ranging from aggravated assaults to kidnapping and burglary were brought to light by Amnesty International, a worldwide campaign fighting against the abuses of human rights around the world.
Amnesty International released a report that said, “Detainees in SARS custody have been subjected to a variety of methods of torture including hanging, mock execution, beating, punching and kicking, burning with cigarettes, waterboarding, near-asphyxiation with plastic bags, forcing detainees to assume stressful bodily positions.”
Protests began in mid-October of this year. The streets of Nigeria filled with peaceful protesters following the international support of many influential artists and activists such as Kanye West, footballer Rio Ferdinand and actor John Boyega, in addition to the worldwide social media campaign in support of #EndSARS.
On Oct. 11, Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar Adamu announced the end of SARS. A Special Weapons and Tactics team was created to take over the enforcement of laws after the disbandment of SARS. Despite this, many demanded further protection from and reform of Nigeria’s police force ranging from psychological evaluations to independent oversight.
Nigerians have continued to advocate for these demands, and some protests have turned violent. During a peaceful protest last month, protesters in the city of Lagos were shot at after defying the new rule regarding a new 24-hour curfew and anti-riot police. According to Amnesty International, 12 people were killed. This led to an uproar on social media.
Eyewitness Akinbosola Ogunsanya told CNN News, “Members of the Nigerian army pulled up on us and they started firing. I just survived, barely.”
News about SARS, which has caught international attention over the past months, has sparked the concern of some students at Fountain Valley High School.
“Hearing about police brutality in Nigeria made me feel this sudden rage of anger because it is so sad to see so many innocent people suffer at the hands of those who abuse their power just because they can,” junior Emroz Sandhu said. “Many people died to make sure that no one else has to suffer. I hope these hate crimes can one day come to an end.”
To learn more about police brutality in the United States visit, read “National and local police reform prompted by Black Lives Matter protests.”