Widespread protests against police brutality have continued for a sixth day in Nigeria, despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s disbanding of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) against which they were initially directed.
Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu joined protesters in Lagos, while soldiers violently dispersed demonstrators in front of the federal parliament in Abuja and thousands marched in different cities across the country.
Nationwide demonstrations began on 6 October after footage of SARS officers dragging two men from a hotel and shooting one of them had sparked online protest.
The predominantly young protesters have been met with tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon in places. A protester was shot dead by police in Oyo state, and there were reports of live rounds being used in Lagos on 12 October. A policeman died after demonstrators attacked a police station in the Surulere area of Lagos on the same day.
Protests have also taken place in foreign cities including Accra and London, while global celebrities such as footballers Mesut Ozi and Marcus Rashford, actor John Boyega and Afrobeats stars Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy have lent their support.
Formed in 1992, SARS is an undercover police unit that was set up to combat violent crime but gained notoriety after accusations of illegal arrests, sexual harassment and extrajudicial killing, as well as for its arbitrary policy of stop and search and generally brutal behaviour.
An online campaign using the hashtag #ENDSARS was founded in 2017 and peaceful protests had been held across the country prior to the current round.
On 11 October the President’s office released a statement saying that SARS had been dissolved with immediate effect, but neither the protests against police brutality, nor the sometimes brutal response by the police, had ceased at time of writing.
African lives matter
Following the special focus on African Lives Matter in our August/September issue, New African magazine continues to report on the mistreatment of citizens by authorities in African countries and to campaign against the gross injustices being done to Black people not only across the world but also in their home continent. To follow our reports visit the African Lives Matter page.