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#ENDSARS; Protests Spark Across Nigeria Against Police Brutality

#ENDSARS; Protests Spark Across Nigeria Against Police Brutality

Abuja: SARS or Special Anti-Robbery Squad is a notorious police unit accused of unlawful arrests and murders that was recently disbanded. SARS had faced massive backlash for their inhumane methods and for violating basic human rights at multiple occasions. The largely online "ENDSARS" movement that was boosted by the support of many, which included the likes of footballer Marcus Rashford and actor John Boyega ended up in a statement from the Office of the President that said: "The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) of the Nigeria Police Force has been dissolved with immediate effect." Thereby formally announcing the dismantling of the police unit.

Massive protests have broken out at the capital Abuja and across the country after the unit was disbanded, as the officers were reinstated in other positions and no actions were taken against them. "The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people." tweeted the President, Muhammadu Buhari from his official twitter account.

Jimoh isiaka, a protester was shot dead by police in the southwestern state of Oyo, the governor said in a statement, while also a police officer, Etaga Stanley, was also killed during clashes between the protesters and the police in the southern state of Delta. There are multiple reports from eyewitnesses that describe the brutal use of force exercised by the police to curb the protest at the capital Abuja. "This is not just about SARS, it's about ending police brutality", said Ikechukwu Onanuku, a protestor from Lagos who was marching amongst thousands in the neighbourhood of Ikoyi. The protesters demand the release of the detained protesters and are also worried about the actual extend to which Police reforms shall take place.

The alleged use of live bullets by the police on protesters has acted contradictory to the statements made by the president earlier in which he promised "extensive" police reforms and said will bring the Sars officers responsible for human rights violations to justice. "We have seen from bitter experience that past investigations into violations were either never carried out or marred by irregularities. To date, the Nigerian authorities have yet to show a genuine commitment to ending the lawless activities of SARS." Said Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria, "Such abuses will only be prevented when SARS officers are held to account for their actions and face disciplinary or criminal punishment if they are found to be responsible for human rights violations." As he voiced his opinion on the current protests against police brutality in the country. The protestors demand a concrete plan that ensures justice and compensation for the families that have been affected due to the actions of Sars rather than baseless claims of reform by the president.

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