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SARS: Why are tens of thousands of Nigerians protesting? | Nigeria

Tens of thousands of Nigerians have taken to the streets for more than two weeks to protest police brutality.

Tens of thousands of Nigerians have taken to the streets for more than two weeks to protest police brutality.

Young people mobilizing via social media have started organizing protests calling for the abolition of the Federal Special Anti-Theft Brigade (SARS), which has long been accused of unlawful arrests, torture and executions extrajudicial.

The #EndSARS hashtag has been trending not only in Nigeria but around the world for several days.

What is SARS?

SARS was a special police unit created in 1984 as Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, battled rising crime and kidnappings.

Initially it was successful in reducing cases of violent crime, but more recently the unit has been “turned into banditry,” according to Fulani Kwajafa, the man who created SARS.

In June 2020, Amnesty International published a report documenting at least 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment and extrajudicial killings by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020.

What triggered the protests?

The protests were sparked by a viral video allegedly showing SARS operatives killing a young man in the South Delta state. Authorities have denied that the video was real.

The man who filmed the video was arrested, angering further.

How did the government react?

Without any sign of retreating from the demonstrators, President Muhammadu Buhari intervened and dissolved the unit.

“Dismantling SARS is only the first step in our commitment to comprehensive police reform to ensure that the primary duty of police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of life and the livelihoods of our people, ”Buhari said.

Last week, Muhammed Adamu, Inspector General of Police, said all SARS operatives would be redeployed to other police commands, formations and units.

This drew condemnation from protesters who pledged to continue their campaign to demand accountability and justice for victims of police brutality.

In recent days, protests have turned violent with gunfire on protesters.

On Tuesday, Amnesty said there was “credible but disturbing evidence” that security forces in Lagos, the country’s commercial capital, had fired at protesters, killing them.

Have the protests spread around the world?

The #EndSARS protests have taken place in cities around the world, including London, Berlin, New York and Toronto.

Several celebrities including Kanye West, John Boyega, Diddy and Rihanna and Manchester United footballer Odion Ighalo have expressed their support for the protesters online.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday called on President Buhari and the Nigerian military to “stop killing” the protesters.

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