Human RightsNews

Lagos Assembly Buckles, Joins Call To End SARS As Protests Continue

After three days of siege by protesters against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), over acts of harassment, extortion, intimidation and unlawful arrests by police operatives, the Lagos State House of Assembly has joined the call for scrapping the squad.

The assembly premises have been under siege by protesters who have spent nights on the ground in tents in front of the complex in harsh weather, according to Twitter user, @SavvyRinu.

Aside Lagos, the protests by the #EndSars Movement from Wednesday to Friday, also took place in Abuja as well as Kwara and Edo states.

The protesters are demanding a complete end to SARS in spite of Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu on Sunday, October 4, ordering that the unit and other tactical squads of the Nigeria Police Force should not engage in regular patrols.

Other demands of the protesters are the prosecution of SARS personnel who have been involved in illegal activities as well as the compilation of a list of policemen found guilty of engaging in extra-judicial pursuits and compensation for victims of SARS inhuman treatment.

According to Amnesty International, there have been 82 reported cases of human rights abuse by SARS since 2017.

In Lagos, street lights were dipped during the protests and the protesters feared they were under attack as the police attempted to disperse them.

The protesters had threatened to shut down Airport Road, Lagos, unless they were addressed by President Muhammadu Buhari on the killing of youth by the squad.

On Friday morning, the Lagos State House of Assembly, led by the Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, called on the Federal Government to end SARS.

Obasa had earlier came out to appeal the protesters to go home, and promised to hold an emergency meeting with Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

A police officer by the name Obioma O. Obi had allegedly assaulted and pulled a loaded weapon on peaceful protesters, as seen in a video uploaded by Uwa Bunkoye on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the IGP has condemned alleged attacks on policemen and damage to police vehicles by protesters in Delta State.

In a statement, the Nigeria Police Force said the incident led to the death of CPL Etaga Stanley, while Sgt. Patrick Okuone sustained a gunshot injury.

“The protesters also carted away one (1) service AK47 rifle with breach no 56-2609008 and 25 rounds of live ammunition that was with the deceased at the time of the incident.

“The IGP described the incident as cruel and unwarranted and warned that the Force will no longer tolerate any attack on its personnel or any member of the law enforcement community by any individual or group protesting under any guise.

“The IGP notes that protest by citizens remain a legitimate means for airing their concerns and views. It must however be carried out with all sense of responsibility and within the confines of the law.” the statement read.

Adamu directed the commissioner of police in Delta State to conduct discrete investigations and bring the killer protesters to book.

But citizens on twitter have already begun an outcry in response to the statement and asked whether the police had carried the same thoughtfulness towards bringing their own officers to justice.

“These your so-called SARS boys do they also work within the confines of the law?

As much as I am totally against harassment of law enforcement officers, I am equally against officers tormenting their people all because they put on uniform,” @bodefash responded in a tweet.

True be said your boss isn’t representing uWhen the social media campaign began in 2017, the Federal Government promised a “reform and reorganization” of SARS.

The then IGP, Ibrahim K. Idris, made the promise with the National Assembly backing the call for the squad to be scrapped but no action was taken.

Since the ban against SARS patrols, many Nigerians have gone to social media to say that operatives of the squad still carried out such duties.

At the scene of the protest in Lagos, Twitter user @AntiSARsGeng tweeted that police were at the time harassing them while they peacefully protested into the night.

“They are harassing us. This time they are threatening to release bullets. I’m tired. I’m scared. But I came here for this,” he said.

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Hafsah Abubakar Matazu

Hafsah Abubakar Matazu is the current Programme Director at HumAngle. She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Mass Communication from Baze University Abuja. Prior to joining HumAngle, she worked for Abuja-based Daily Trust Newspapers as an investigative reporter. She leads the program team in planning and implementing grants as well as funded and non funded reporting projects. She tweets via @hafsahabubakar_

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