Anti police-brutality protests occurring in Nigeria are expected to spread to London later this weekend. A march has been planned from Marble Arch to the Nigerian High Commission, in just one of many efforts to support Nigerian citizens. Widespread support is evolving into an international effort to completely end police brutality and dissolve the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Nigeria.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was formed in 1992 as a unit of the Nigerian Police in an attempt to fight against armed robbery. Violent crimes were rising in Nigeria at the time, which led to the establishment of this force to specifically focus on armed robbery. While they were previously credited with reducing criminal activity and carrying out missions, the squad has become known for unlawful arrests, extortion, unfair killings and sexual assault.
A Nigerian entrepreneur told CNN that “he has had several encounters [that]… usually begin with requests for bribes… He was threatened by [an] officer who told him, ‘You know if I shoot you, nothing will happen. The highest anyone will do is cry justice on Twitter.’”
In response to these allegations and the rising unrest in Nigeria, the Nigerian Police Force announced that SARS had been dissolved on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, but protests still continued in an attempt to bring about the end of police brutality. This led to a series of clashes between the Nigerian army and civilians, with the army shooting at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate. The Nigerian army posted a series of tweets claiming that this was fake news, but videos have been shared that support the accusations against the police.
No official number of casualties has been shared, but Twitter users have said that approximately 78 deaths have been reported so far as a result of the Lekki shooting. The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, also tweeted that he was imposing a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the state as of 4pm on Oct. 20, 2020. He declared, “Nobody except essential service providers and first responders must be found on the streets.”
No new information has been released relating to the situation in Nigeria, and it remains unclear how both the Nigerian citizens and government will respond after the curfew Sanwo-Olu instated. While support is being shown worldwide, Nigeria itself is yet to show its stance on continuing protests after the shootings.