Nigeria’s government on Sunday said it would dissolve a controversial federal police unit accused of carrying out extrajudicial killings and abusing citizens.
“The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) of the Nigeria Police Force has been dissolved with immediate effect,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s office said in a statement.
Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, said on October 11 that the national police would soon announce new measures, such as implementing a “new policing arrangement” to replace Sars and redeploying Sars officers to other units. Adamu had previously dismissed the prospect of disbanding Sars but said that officials had changed their minds in response to recent anti-Sars protests, which he referred to as “the yearnings of the Nigerian people.”
Nigeria’s federal police founded Sars in 1992 to combat rising rates of violent crime across the country. Since then, citizens have regularly accused the unit of abusing its authority.
Prior to Sunday’s announcement, graphic footage of Sars’ alleged abuses had emerged online over the past week, sparking protests across Nigeria demanding the government disband the unit.
The movement began online at first, with “EndSars” trending across social media in Nigeria. The outrage soon spilled onto Nigerian streets, with people marching in Lagos and in other cities throughout the country.
“Armed police in the capital, Abuja, used force against protesters who were marching as the decision to dissolve it [Sars] was announced,” U.K. newspaper the Guardian reported on Sunday.
Some videos posted to social media in Nigeria this weekend appear to show police officers firing live rounds at protesters. Other videos seem to show security forces using teargas and a water cannon against protesters.
— #SarsMustGo Oga Web Designer 🇳 (@samCodeNg) October 11, 2020
Clashes between police officers and protesters turned deadly in parts of southern Nigeria, according to the report.
A protester identified as Jimoh Isiaka was shot dead by police in Nigeria’s southwestern state of Oyo, the state’s governor said in a statement on Saturday. In the state of Delta, a police officer identified as Etaga Stanley was also killed during local unrest.