Nigerian citizens in Nairobi protest against controversial anti-robbery squad


Nigerian citizens in Nairobi protest against controversial anti-robbery squad
Nigerian citizens outside their High Commission on Lenana Road, Nairobi October 21, 2020. PHOTO | ERIC OWENGA

A section of Nigerian citizens camped outside the High Commission in Nairobi on Wednesday protesting over the injustices by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

They accused their government of using the controversial police unit to silence vibrant citizens who are against extortion, harassment, torture and murders.

The protesters carried placards that read ‘Stop Killing Our Youth, End Injustice‘; ‘I am a Nigerian, End Police Brutality, End SARS, End Corruption‘.

They lamented that the High Commissioner for Nigeria was yet to address them over the crisis in their country.

This comes a day after soldiers opened fire on Nigerians who were protesting against police brutality in Lekki district, Lagos.

Protests against SARS broke out after a video circulated allegedly showing members of the unit shooting a man dead in Delta state.
Protests against SARS broke out after a video circulated allegedly showing members of the unit shooting a man dead in Delta state. PHOTO | REUTERS

Four witnesses told Reuters that at least two people were shot.

In a Twitter post, the Nigerian Army however said no soldiers were at the scene of the shooting on Tuesday night.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has since appealed for understanding and calm.

His statement however did not directly address the shootings but called on Nigerians to have patience as police reforms “gather pace”.

Thousands of Nigerians have demonstrated nationwide every day for nearly two weeks against SARS.

Roads in major cities in Nigeria have been blocked and cities brought close to a standstill as protesters demonstrated across more than 100 cities. PHOTO | CNN
Roads in major cities in Nigeria have been blocked and cities brought close to a standstill as protesters demonstrated across more than 100 cities. PHOTO | CNN

 

Police used water cannons against protesters in Nigeria. PHOTO | CNN
Police used water cannons against protesters in Nigeria. PHOTO | CNN

 

The unit was disbanded on October 11 but the protests have persisted with demonstrators calling for a raft of law enforcement reforms.

“They started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd,” said Alfred Ononugbo, 55, a security officer after the soldiers opened fire. “I saw the bullet hit one or two persons,” he said.

The condition of those two people was not immediately known.

Amnesty International said at least 15 people had been killed since the protests began.

Lagos State Goveror Babajide Sanwo-Olu tweeted pictures of him visiting people in hospital who were victims of what he referred to as the “unfortunate shooting incident at Lekki”.

He said 25 people were being treated for mild to moderate injuries, two were receiving intensive care and three had been discharged.

“As the Governor of our state, I recognise the buck stops at my table and I will work with the FG (federal government) to get to the root of this unfortunate incident and stabilise all security operations to protect the lives of our residents,” said Sanwo-Olu, adding that he would give a state broadcast on Wednesday morning.

The Lagos state government earlier said it would open an investigation into the shooting.

Additional report from Reuters

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Story By Erick Owenga
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