By Anthony Osae-Brown and Dulue Mbachu October 9, 2020, 6:04 AM PDT

Protests Against Police Brutality Spread Across Nigerian Cities

Protesters gather calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, "SARS," police unit, in Ikeja, Nigeria on Oct. 8.Protesters gather calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, "SARS," police unit, in Ikeja, Nigeria on Oct. 8.Photographer: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images

Protests against the excesses of a Nigerian police unit are spreading across the West African nation’s major cities, with the death of an officer reported in one incident, authorities said.

Marches that began in smaller numbers on Monday have since grown into large crowds of youths calling for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Unit. Human-rights groups including Amnesty International have accused the unit of widespread abuses, including extra-judicial killings.

The protests were triggered by killing of a civilian in the southern town of Ughelli last week by a member of the unit. A video of the incident went viral on social media. The demonstrations turned violent on Thursday, with the killing of a policemen and injuries to a number of his colleagues in Ughelli, the police said Friday in an emailed statement.

The authorities responded to the outcry against the unit by banning it from undertaking patrols and mounting checkpoints until reforms take place.

The police “will no longer tolerate any attack on its personnel or any member of the law-enforcement community by any individual or group protesting under any guise,” Inspector-General Mohammed Adamu said.

Amnesty International, which has documented alleged abuses by the unit, said compelling evidence of its illegal actions have been compiled over time that can help with investigations into past crimes.


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