Protests over SARS unit and police brutality continue to rock Nigeria
CAPE TOWN - The Nigerian government has dissolved a questionable police unit known for beating and torturing ordinary citizens, according to the Voice of America.
According to the television network, protests against the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) that began two weeks ago continued across Nigeria on Tuesday, with demonstrators demanding justice for victims and an end to police impunity.
Voice of America also reported that issues around police brutality involving the SARS unit have simmered for years in Nigeria.
After protests spread across various states in the country, authorities disbanded the group on Sunday.
Mohammed Adamu, Nigeria’s inspector-general of police, said: "As a responsive and citizens-oriented police force, it is hereby directed as follows: the Special Anti-robbery Squad of the Nigerian police otherwise known as SARS is hereby dissolved across all formations.”
He said the move went beyond disbanding the unit but also had to do with their psychology and mindset.
Osai Ojigho, the Nigeria country director for human rights group Amnesty International, said the dissolution will be complete only when the victims get justice.
"When we say end SARS, we're talking about ending the impunity caused by SARS. So it means that officers who have been identified by the police authority or officers that the citizens have pointed to, need to face justice," he told Voice of America.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, The Nation newspaper reported that the SARS unit would be replaced by the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team in Nigeria.
Police spokesperson Frank Mba in a statement seen by the publication said: “The inspector-general of police (IGP) has set up a new SWAT team that will fill the gaps arising from the dissolution of the defunct SARS. Prospective members of this new team will also undergo psychological and medical examination to ascertain their fitness and eligibility for the new assignment.”