Some peaceful protesters staging their demonstration in Abuja as part of calls for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), was dispersed today after their protest cut short as police officers fired teargas at the crowd.
The #EndSARS protesters on Sunday had gathered at the Unity Fountain, the plan was to make their way to the Force Headquarters to see the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu.
They were however intercepted along the way by a team of policemen who wasted no time at firing teargas and water canisters in a bid to disperse the protesters.
Having successfully dispersed the crowd, the police also went on to seal off all entrances to the Luis Edet House.
The incident is not the first in a week of protests that have seen several encounters between the police and #EndSARS protesters degenerate into violence across the country.
Recall that a young Nigerian, Jimoh Isiaq was shot in Ogbomosho during an #EndSars protest and an incident that later led to the death of the victim.
Eyewitnesses said Isiaq was standing along the road when he was shot by the Nigerian police.
Human rights organisation, Amnesty International also said Isiaq was shot by the police. The Oyo State police command, in a statement, denied that they were involved in shooting at protesters.
SARS was founded in 1992 to combat cases of armed robbery, kidnapping, and other violent crimes. But SARS, instead, over time, has gained notoriety for its reckless intimidation of innocent civilians through puerile profiling and wanton abuse of power.
Calls for the unit’s disbandment dates as far back as 2017; while the Federal Government and police chiefs have made several pledges to implement reform, reports of SARS’ brutal activities against civilians have not abated.
The current wave of protest can be traced to October 3, after another report of extra-judicial killing in Delta State (the police have denied any killing took place).
It sparked fresh concerns and anger. Fuelled by this, and the outpouring of tales of traumatic experiences at the hands of officials of the unit, many Nigerians have held protests in many states, including Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory, Kaduna, Osun, Edo, and Imo.
The protests continued on Saturday as participants dismissed the ban on SARS patrol, announced on Sunday last week, by the Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu and the statement by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday asking the IGP to address the excesses of erring officials and “ensure that the Police are fully accountable to the people.”
Protesting Nigerians say similar promises in the past yielded no change; they want SARS scrapped.