The Special Anti-Robbery Squad known as SARS was a special task force created by the Nigerian government in 2012 to address armed robbery and violent crime in Nigeria. But from its inception, citizens and human rights advocates have been highly critical of the task force due to the extreme tactics used by some of its members in the name of safety. For years now there have been loud complaints of profiling, harassment, detentions, beatings, and killings committed by SARS officers. Nigerians have long documented these unjust practices and the impunity with which these officers have carried out their activities and the failure of the Nigerian government to stop the brutalization of its citizens. Following the recent killing of yet another Nigerian in Delta State at the hands of SARS, Nigerian youths launched nation wide protests and social media campaigns to once again call attention to the SARS menace. These ongoing protests have captured the attention of the international community, garnering support not just from the global Nigerian diaspora but from Amnesty International, celebrities, media personalities and human rights advocates.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Nigerians, the Nigerian government announced on October 11th that the notorious unit is shut down with immediate effect. But advocates have continued protests and are continuing to demand for greater reforms in policing and the criminal justice system. Advocates are also demanding that SARS officers, who the government has stated will be “redeployed,” be held responsible for their actions. Despite mild initial concessions, many government officials at the state and national level are already pushing back against the protests. Many protesters remain jailed and Rivers State Governor Nyesome Wike has gone as far as banning on all protests in that state. Yet, advocates have maintained their resolve, defying Governor Wike’s ban and continuing to make their voices heard across the country.
Philly Nigerian Professionals stands in solidarity with Nigerians world wide as they advocate for an end to police brutality and state sanctioned violence and demand for greater accountability from the government.