Nigerians from all walks of life have flocked the streets of their towns over the past two days protesting the operations of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and demanding its disbandment. They accuse this police branch of violating their rights and using unnecessary excessive force.
What is SARS
For those who may not know, SARS is a branch of the Nigeria Police Force under the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) which deals with crimes associated with armed robbery, car snatching, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and crimes associated with firearms. Formed as early as 1992 and currently headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police Anthony Ogbizi, this plainclothes police branch has come under scrutiny for being linked to acts of torture, blackmail, extortion, and framing.
History of Protests
As early as 2017, a petition signed by 10,195 people was submitted to Nigeria’s National Assembly calling for the scrapping of SARS just after Amnesty International had accused officers of the police branch of detaining young Nigerians illegally and extorting money from their relatives.
Seeing their efforts were in vain, the campaigners moved from social media to organize protests in Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, Benin among other areas calling on the government to disband the force. The Police through their PRO, Jimoh Moshood, accused the campaigners of being criminals wanting to cause unrest
Since 2017, the campaigners have gone relatively silent until this year when when “RevolutionNow” protests took place on Nigeria’s Independence day, reigniting a massive social media campaign followed by protests on streets all over the country. Nigerians in the diaspora weren’t left out too as the organized protest in their respective areas of residence.
This week’s protests have had various influential figures and celebrities in Nigeria such as Wizkid, Davido, Leone Balogun among others mobilising their compatriots not to give in.