Nigeria’s government has dissolved the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, commonly called Sars, an infamous police unit plagued with allegations of extrajudicial killings and abuse. Sars officers would be redeployed to other units, he said, and a “new policing arrangement” to replace it would soon be announced. Given a recurring cycle in Nigeria of public outrage leading to government pledges that are then perceived not to have brought about tangible change.
Amnesty International’s director in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, said. “The announcement falls short of demands for accountability and justice for abuses committed by the unit and police in general. The police authorities must state strongly the concrete steps they will take to ensure all officers alleged to have committed human rights violations are investigated and brought to justice."
“First it’s Sars and then it’s the whole police system, because even with ordinary policemen and women we are not safe,” Anuola, 26, said in Lagos.
“This is not just about Sars, it’s about ending police brutality,” said Ikechukwu Onanuku, a musician in Lagos, who led chants as a thousand marched in the affluent neighbourhood of Ikoyi, blocking a bridge and a roundabout.
The right to protest is enshrined in Nigerian law, but protest movements are regularly suppressed as security forces often see them as threats to stability.