ABUJA, 2 November 2020 – The appeal by President Muhammad Buhari for Nigerians to work with his government to end police violence by the special anti-robbery police unit SARS has fallen on deaf ears, as protests continue unabated across the country.
Analysts say Mr. Buharai probably poured more fuel on the fire when he failed in his appeal to acknowledge dozens of civilians killed in the first week of the protests.
Organizers of the StopSARS campaign are deeply suspicious that ending the protests will lead to no reforms and those killed and likely to be killed going forward would all have died in vain.
The Nigerian government claims the protests have been hijacked by those it calls hoodlums. Organizers deny the charge, pointing to video posted on social media platforms showing thugs working hand in glove with Nigerian security forces in stoking the violence.
Amnesty International has blamed the Nigerian army and police for the shooting dead of at least 12 peaceful protesters at Lekki and Alausa in Lagos. Hundreds of other civilians were injured in those shootings, according to the London-based rights group.
“At least 56 people have died across the country since the protest began, with about 38 killed on Tuesday alone,” a statement from Amnesty International read in part.
To curb the violence, night time curfews have been decreed in many states and municipalities, including Lagos where one has been in place since last October 20.
The protests were sparked by the killing of a civilian by members of SARS.
As soon as video of the killing went viral on social media platforms, groups of predominantly young people started to spontaneously hold rallies calling for an end to SARS.
Seeing the writing on the wall, the Nigerian Police Force announced that it had disbanded SARS.
Few of the protesters believed the disbanding was real. Also they felt the disbanding alone did not go far enough to address allegations of human rights abuses by members of the police, armed and security forces.
Citizens participating in the protests called for more profound reforms, including bring the policemen who committed the crimes to justice.