Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera 12 Oct 2020

#EndSARS: Nigeria says Special Anti-Robbery Squad dissolved


Nigeria's police chief has announced the dissolution of a notorious anti-robbery unit following days of widespread protests against police brutality.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad is accused of torture, murder and unlawful arrests.
The police chief announced a new outfit to tackle violent crimes will soon be set up and that civil society will now work with the police to identify and punish officers who committed abuses.
But civil society wants to see officers accused of murder and other abuses punished.

Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris reports from Abuja, Nigeria.

The head of #Nigeria's police dissolved its Special Anti-Robbery Squad with immediate effect on Sunday, a police statement said, 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 #SARS - shooting dead a man in Delta state. It also prompted a globally-trending social media campaign to abolish the squad.
The President of Nigeria said "many lives have been lost" in the protests sparked by a video showing a man being beaten, apparently by police officers from SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad).

In the last two weeks, the End SARS movement has spread across Nigeria and at least 56 people have died - 38 of them on Tuesday alone, Amnesty International claims.

The government said the peaceful protests have been hijacked by thugs and warned protesters against being used by "subversive elements".
The Nigerian government's decision to abolish a police squad implicated in extrajudicial killings and torture has failed to placate protesters.
A new unitcalled SWAT was formed to replace the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
But the protesters are now saying they want to hold the police and government officials accountable.

Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris reports from Abuja, Nigeria.
Nigerian authorities say they have abolished a notorious police unit after a week of huge protests sparked by a viral video that showed two officers shooting a man - but demonstrators are not convinced by the move.

The protests, during which Amnesty International says at least 10 people were killed, have continued. Activists say disbanding the Special Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was not enough and that campaigning will continue until there is root and branch reform of the police force and an independent investigation into abuses.

President Muhammadu Buhari insists "extensive police reforms" will take place. The country's top police officer has promised to investigate allegations of abuse involving SARS officers and ensure former officers go through a medical and psychological evaluation before being reassigned. Protesters, though, are sceptical.

An announcement that a new unit, the Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT), would be formed to replace SARS prompted activists to claim the unit was simply being rebranded. The #EndSars movement on social media was quick to launch a second campaigning hashtag, #EndSwat.

SARS has been around since 1992 and has repeatedly been accused of corruption, torture, arrests and extrajudicial killing. The #EndSars hashtag was first used in 2017 when other videos of alleged abuse went viral.

Amnesty International documented at least 82 cases of torture, ill treatment and extra-judicial killings between January 2017 and May this year - the victims mainly men aged between 18 and 35.

In this episode of The Stream, we'll discuss the latest developments in this-fast moving story, ask why it has galvanized Nigerians both at home and abroad, and look ahead to what may happen next.

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