SARS ban: 2 died in Lagos as Nigeria police shot at protesters

SARS ban: 2 died in Lagos as Nigeria police shot at protesters

A police officer and a civilian have been killed in Lagos as protests continue against police brutality for a sixth day.

There are reports that police used live ammunition on the protesters in the country’s largest city.

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This comes a day after a notorious police unit accused of unlawful arrests and murder was officially disbanded.

Demonstrators have long called for the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) to be broken up.

But they remain unhappy following Sunday’s announcement that officers are being redeployed to other units rather than being disciplined.

Eyewitnesses say there were multiple casualties among protesters after police opened fire on them in the Surulere area of Lagos on Monday, the BBC’s Ishaq Khalid reports from the capital, Abuja.

Some of the demonstrators reportedly threw stones at the police. The police say one officer was killed and two others were critically injured by what they called ”armed protesters”.

Meanwhile, Lagos police and protesters blame each other for the death of a 55-year-old man.

An aide to President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the use of live bullets on demonstrators by the police. There are reports that armed trucks have been deployed to Lagos airport to break up protests blocking access to the airport.

Earlier, the president promised “extensive” police reforms and said Sars officers responsible for human rights violations would be brought to justice.

But the latest alleged use of live bullets by the police on protesters could further anger campaigners and lend more credence to their grievances, our correspondent says.

In Monday’s video address, President Buhari said disbanding Sars was “only the first step” in a range of reforms, but added that police officers were hard-working, and the reputation of the force should not be tarnished by a “few bad eggs”.

In a statement, Nigeria’s police chief Mohammed Adamu said allegations of abuse would be investigated by a committee including civil society members.

Yet many are concerned at suspected wrongdoers continuing to serve in the force, and it is unclear whether any officers will be prosecuted for past abuses.

Sceptics also point to the fact this is the fourth time in as many years that promises have been made to disband or reform Sars.

After Sunday’s announcement that the police unit would be disbanded, there were reports of officers continuing to use tear gas, water cannon and live rounds against protesters in the capital, Abuja, and the south-western state of Oyo, fuelling concerns that people in Sars had not been removed from duty.

It was not until musician Davido joined protests in Abuja that the police stopped arresting demonstrators.

There are also fears that if thousands of Sars officers were dismissed at once, they could pose a security threat.

Activists say the abuses carried out during the protests – including beatings, intimidation and the disproportionate use of force against demonstrators – were all carried out by policemen who did not belong to Sars.

They say a total overhaul of policing in Nigeria is needed.

Over the weekend, protests against Sars spread to Europe and Canada after reports of unlawful arrests, torture and shootings.

#EndSARS campaigners have circulated a list of five key demands to bring about reform. These are:

The immediate release of all arrested protesters

Justice for those killed by police brutality and compensation for their families

An independent body to investigate and prosecute misconduct

Independent psychological assessments and new training for dismissed Sars officers who want redeployment

A pay rise for police so they are “adequately compensated for protecting lives and property of citizens.”

Source: BBC

Jude Ogbonna

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