Nigerians call for an end to police extortion and brutality through #EndSARS

Nigerians on social media are expressing anger and frustration over the activities of men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian police, calling for the unit to be scrapped.

The #EndSars hashtag was the number one trend on social media app, Twitter for several hours, aimed at drawing the attention of the Nigerian government to the illegal activities of the squad

This recent outrage is triggered by a post from a Twitter user who said he recorded SARS officials shooting “a young boy dead at Ughelli, Delta state . .  . in front of Wetland hotels. They left him for dead on the roadside and drove away with the deceased Lexus jeep.”

 A video circulating on social media shows men chasing a police vehicle.

The Commissioner of Police in Delta State, Hafiz Inuwa, however told Channels Television that his men did not shoot anyone.

“What happened was that they were on patrol when they saw a Lexus jeep parked by the roadside,” he said. “Immediately, the Lexus jeep saw the patrol jeep, they just zoomed off.”

The police gave chase, caught up with the Lexus, and occupied it, Inuwa said. However, one of the suspects tried to jump out of the moving vehicle and, in the process, sustained injuries. “He is still alive and in hospital,” the Commissioner said.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar condemned SARS’ “cruel actions against our people” and called for a review of the unit’s operations.

SARS “was set up to confront violent crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping and other related crimes,” Atiku said. “However, the unit has today morphed into an oppressor of the Nigerian masses who strive every day for a better life.

“Reports of intimidation, harassment and outright extortion by officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have continued unabated.

“I strongly condemn their cruel actions against our people, and I urge the government to rise to the occasion and nip this monstrosity in the bud with the seriousness it deserves.

“It is expedient that the activities of SARS are reviewed to ensure that the rogue elements are excised from the unit and sanity returned to its operations.” He wrote.

Recall that on Thursday September 17, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the police reform bill into law.

NewsWireNGR’s deep dive into the bill, revealed it as a vaguely-worded legislation that opens the door to regulatory overreach and systemic arbitrage.

“Police brutality in Nigeria is not arbitrary or accidental,” human rights lawyer, Ayo Sogunro, said on Twitter. “It is part of a systemic method of keeping socially and economically marginalised Nigerians under control.

“This is why we say #EndSARS will not happen by mere legal reforms. We will need political transformation.”

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