Nigeria — Celebrities Join Protests Against Police Brutality

  • On Sunday, Nigeria's president announced the dissolution of the SARS, special police unit with “immediate effect.”
  • A policeman and a civilian were killed on Monday in Lagos during the demonstrations, bringing the number of people killed so far to five.
  • Several celebrities, such as P-Square, Falz, and American rapper Kanye West, led the movement today in Lekki.

Nigeria witnessed another day of demonstrations against police brutality as thousands of young Nigerians took to the streets in several cities of the West African state, including in its economic capital, Lagos. There, several roads were blocked due to the protests. The Nigerian protests against police brutality have been ongoing for a while now.

Protesters blocked main roads in the biggest city, Lagos.

First, the protesters’ demand was the immediate dissolution of the SARS police unit, a unit specializing in major crimes that they accused of extortion, illegal detention, torture, and even murder.

After several days of massive demonstrations, the Nigerian presidency heeded to the demands, and announced on Sunday the dissolution of the SARS, special police unit with “immediate effect.”

Evidently, however, the move hasn’t served to calm the protests as they are still ongoing vigorously. The protesters, who claim to have no political affiliation, have lately been mobilizing via social media, notably Twitter and Facebook.

A policeman and a civilian were killed on Monday in Lagos during the demonstrations, bringing the number of people killed so far to five since the demonstrations began, according to the Lagos state government. Reports have since emerged that the police, in a desperate bid to halt the protests, resorted to the use of live ammunition on the protesters in the country’s largest city.

Celebrities Join Demonstrations

There have been continuous demonstrations by youths in the West African country as they demand the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Several celebrities, such as P-Square, Falz, and American rapper Kanye West, led the movement today in Lekki, a Lagos suburb where several thousands of people were mobilized. West tweeted Monday:

“I stand with my Nigerian brothers and sisters to end police brutality, the government must answer to the peoples cries.”

On Monday night, tens of thousands of cars were trapped for many hours in major traffic jams, aggravated by the demonstrations in the city of approximately 20 million inhabitants. Other protests have been scheduled for today in the states of Ondo, Oyo, or Port Harcourt, a large city in the south of the country, despite its ban, and Abuja, the federal capital.

The protesters are demanding the creation of an independent body to investigate police abuses and the release of protesters detained this week, according to a call for protest broadcast on social media. On Monday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Twitter: 

The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people.

Despite the disbandment of the SARS police unit, The Nigerian demonstrators are still unhappy, however. Officers of the defunct unit shall be redeployed to other units rather than being subjected to the necessary disciplined measures, it was announced on Sunday.  This has left demonstrators upset.

Notably though, even after Sunday’s disbandment of the police unit, reports emerged that officers were continuing to use tear gas, water cannons, and live bullets against the demonstrators in the capital, Abuja, and the south-western state of Oyo, fuelling concerns that the SARS unit was still in full operation.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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