10/27/20 By Giulia Campos
Tens of thousands of Nigerians protest against police brutality, following claims of kidnapping, torture and extortion by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The protests took a deadly turn on Tuesday in Lagos, the country’s largest city, as protestors were shot by Nigerian police forces. The death toll remains unclear but witnesses told CNN about a dozen people have been killed.
Afrosurge Radio talk show host Akinbosola Ogunsanya said the shooting began after toll gate lights were switched off.
“Members of the Nigerian army pulled up on us and they started firing,” he said. “I just survived, barely.”
SARS, Nigeria’s top police force, was established in 1992 to combat armed robbery and other serious violence rising in the country. This unit later became the cause for increased human rights abuses.
In June, Amnesty International reported at least 82 cases of torture, ill treatment and extra-judicial execution by SARS between 2017 and 2020. The report shows that no SARS official was held accountable for the documented systemic torture, proving for an “absolute disregard for international human rights laws and standards.”
Videos and images of the protests and abuses are shared on social media under the hashtag #EndSARS. Nigerians who organized the movement are calling for international intervention.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari spoke to the nation about the unrest and urged protestors to “to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage the government in finding solutions.”
President Buhari failed to address the recent shootings against the protestors.