Nigerians across the country have taken to the streets to protest the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) – a unit of the Nigerian Police Force(NPF) established to combat armed robbery activities. For many years, SARS has victimized Nigerians especially youths. There have been reported cases of maiming, harassment, killings, theft, by officers of this squad.
On Sunday 11th of October, the Inspector General of Police announced the disbanding of SARS. The IG’s statement included that the officers of the unit will be redeployed into other police commands. This is unacceptable.
In 2018, after a widespread outcry of the conduct of SARS, the Vice-President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, ordered an immediate reform of SARS. This reform did not yield any results as SARS have continued to harass and kill citizens. The call for the disbandment of SARS is not only right, it is equally expedient at this point.
In a report by Amnesty International, 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment, and extra-judicial execution by SARS have been recorded between January 2017 and May 2020. Despite the widespread danger caused by SARS, the Nigerian government has continued to pay lip service to the problem without implementing significant reforms. Nigerians have had enough.
As citizens demand the end of SARS, we, at Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative also demand that it should be followed by a total overhaul of the NPF. The institution has failed to protect Nigerians and they have become a menace. Reports of extortion, torture, illicit arrests and detention, rape, bribe continue to emerge with no end in sight.
Our demands are as follows:
The Inspector-General of Police should be sacked and an interim committee is set up to investigate the activities of SARS and all officers found guilty prosecuted within 2 weeks.
A complete overhaul of the Nigerian Police Force including the review of the recruitment and training process of the force.
Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality including innocent protesters that have been killed and adequate compensation for their families.
Nigerians must be protected and the government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this crisis. We support the #SARSMustEnd protests and a total overhaul of the force. Police brutality must be stopped.