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Nigeria’s police disbands controversial anti-robbery Squad after protests

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Image Credits: TobiJamesCandids, Shoebox Photography/Twitter, REUTERS.

Concerned citizen raises doubts on IG’s announcement

Nigerian Inspector-General of Police (IG) dissolved its Special Anti-Robbery Squad with immediate effect on Sunday, prompted by days of protests across the country against alleged brutality by the controversial unit.

The protests broke out after a video circulated last week allegedly showing members of the unit – known as FSARS – shooting dead a man in Delta state. It also prompted a globally-trending social media campaign to abolish the squad.

Aisha Yesufu, a female activist, standing defiant against aggressive police response against #EndSARS protests in Abuja on 10th October.

REUTERS reports that demonstrators also alleged that police shot dead another man while marching in the southwestern city of Ogbomosho on Saturday. Police did not respond to requests for comment on the allegations.

“The dissolution of FSARS is in response to the yearnings of the Nigerian people,” the IG said.

#EndSARS protesters keep vigil in Lagos on 8th October.

It added that the police was redeploying unit members and would announce a new strategy to tackle FSARS’ remit of fighting armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crime.

Protesters and rights groups met the announcement with scepticism and calls for justice. Police officials and politicians have said they were disbanding or reforming FSARS multiple times in recent years, with little visible change, critics say.

“They all need to be punished or disciplined,” said Charles Avackaa, a Lagos media executive who alleged FSARS officers have extorted 100,000 naira ($262.7) from him.

“But they mess up and (their bosses) carry them and put them somewhere else, there is nothing on how they operate,” he said.

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For years, Nigerians have accused FSARS of heavy-handed methods, particularly the young, who say officers regularly target, beat and extort them.

Eye witness photo: In spite of the IG’s announcement, police brutalise a hapless protester.

An Amnesty International report in June documented 82 alleged cases of SARS mistreating, torturing and extra-judicially executing detainees.

On Sunday, Nigerian police used teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters in the capital Abuja, a repeat of what witnesses said were similar events on Friday.

Water cannons used to disperse the #EndSARS protesting crowd in Abuja on 11th October 2020.

Following the IG’s announcement, a concerned citizen raised her suspicions concerning the police response. Her statement reads below:

Nigerian Brothers & Sisters,

ON SARS

I feel compelled, in the interests of truth and justice, to send this short note tonight on this #SARSMUSTEND & #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY business to clear the air…

Yes, The IGP announced on TV that SARS has been disbanded. We have heard variations of this announcement before – since 2018 at least. While our children and our people have continued to die at the hands of some murderous police officers.

Even as the IGP was making that statement this afternoon, his people were still out brutalising peaceful protesters.

Those of us in our 30s and 40s and 50s carrying on as though it is a fight only for the youth, please note: #WEAREALLTHEYOUTH. Next time, it could be you getting shot by a stray bullet from a trigger happy police man.

Those of us criticising young people etc. and acting as if it is their battle to fight for what we were too cowardly to fight 10, 20 or 30 years ago, please do us all a favour and stop with the arm chair criticism.

So until we see genuine change, we should not rejoice yet.

The Nigerian government plans to redeploy these same trigger happy people to other arms of the police force… How will this end police brutality?

See below screenshots… and then go on twitter and see what our young people are saying. Decide for yourself whether we are yet out of the woods or not.

Lastly, I note with utter dismay the silence of the United Nations Office in Nigeria in the face of these flagrant abuses of human rights and call on the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon, to speak up. The UN in Nigeria cannot continue to be silent in the face of this injustice.

#EndPoliceBrutalityNow

Ier Jonathan
Concerned Citizen
11 Oct 2020 @ 10.50pm

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