Nigeria’s police chief has ordered the unconditional release of all anti-police brutality demonstrators arrested during protests against police brutality.
This was a key demand of protesters who have rallied against the hated Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in major cities for seven days. According to multiple news outlets, 10 protesters were killed during the rallies.
Rallies have continued despite President Muhammadu Buhari announcing on Sunday the disbandment of SARS.
Shola Lawal and
“The Special Anti-Robbery Squad was created in 1992 and charged with tackling the problem of violent crime in Lagos. It operated as a faceless, 15-member team that traveled in two unmarked buses, its officers often wearing neither uniforms nor name tags.
The anonymity was considered vital for taking on the gangs that openly terrorized Lagos at the time. But as the police unit grew, establishing itself throughout the country, its faceless nature opened the door to abuse, making it difficult to identify and report rogue officers and emboldening them to act with impunity, critics say.
The SARS unit has been accused of targeting young people who appear well-dressed, shaking them down for money, and torturing and abusing and even killing those who resist. Amnesty International says it documented more than 82 cases of abuse and extrajudicial killings by SARS officers from January 2017 to this May.
President Buhari’s words have been met with skepticism by protest leaders. Major Black entertainers including Nigerian music stars Davido and Falz, American rap superstar Kanye West, R&B singer Trey Songz and Afro-British actor Jon Boyega have offered support for the anti-police brutality protesters on social media using the #EndSARS hashtag.