Hundreds of Nigerians have taken to the streets of major cities nationwide calling on the government to completely scrap the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) for several alleged acts of misconducts.
The group said: “We are appalled by the stories told by victims, friends and family members of victims who have recounted experiences of extortion, torture, murder and disappearance of friends and loved ones.
“These stories, many supported with pictures and videos, told by thousands of Nigerians about their suffering in the hands of men of the unit show that indeed the unit has outlived its uselessness and has become a menace to the Nigerian society.” Speaking at the protest the convener of the Concerned Nigerians group, Deji Adeyanju, said the SARS pride themselves with he fact that Nigerians fear them.
“The people that they (SARS) protect should love them. Yes, the people can fear them but there must be mutual respect. The SARS has bastardized their reputation by extorting the people,” Adeyanju said. “All the stories on social media are very scary,” he added. The nationwide campaign to scrap SARS is led Segun Awonsonya, the convener of the #EndSARS protest. This also led to the outrage on the activities of the SARS unit of the Nigeria Police which began on social media.
Awonsonya said the stories over SARS activities is an indication that the unit has outlived its purpose. “We demand for an outright scrapping of the SARS unit of the Nigeria police,” he said. He also called for a public hearing at the National Assembly to enable Nigerians table their grievances, investigation into crimes committed by operatives of SARS. “We give the authorities 21 days to meet the demands or force us to take other measure to embrace them into taking actions,” Awonsanya said.
Other groups involved in the protest include Coalition In Defence Of Nigerian Democracy, Public Interest Lawyer and the Campaign For Democracy. Meanwhile, Nigeria Police authorities have organised a counter-protest to the #EndSARS rally in Abuja tagged #SupportSARS.
The police have been circulating the hashtag #SupportSARS on social media and have called on media organizations to report on their rally in Abuja supporting the police.