Young people demanding for police reforms and for an end to police brutality in Nigeria, were attacked by hired thugs and their cars set ablaze in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.

The attack occurred just past midnight on October 19, 2020. Sundry reports also say the protesters were shot at and forced to flee the venue of the occupation.

Youths protesting police brutality in Nigeria under the ‘End SARS’ banner have blocked major roads in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Benin since October 8.

Protesters have also been routinely attacked in Lagos, Abuja, Osun, Kwara and Anambra by hoodlums.

Police have also dispersed protesters with water cannons and teargas canisters.

Some encounters between police and protesters, notably in Lagos and Oyo, have turned bloody and fatal.

Anthony Onome, a protester who was stabbed by hoodlums on Saturday, October 17, in Abuja, has been reported dead in hospital.

Scrapping SARS

In the early days, the campaigners called for a scrapping of the notorious police unit, SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad)--a demand the presidency acceded to by disbanding SARS on October 11.

However, the protesters haven’t left the streets after SARS was disbanded.

SARS operatives have been accused of extra-judicial killings, torture of innocents, extortion and human rights abuses for decades.

The federal government has also fired and demoted police officers deemed guilty of human rights violations.

The protesters are now asking for transparency and accountability from government, psychological evaluation and re-training of all former SARS operatives before they are redeployed, the release of all arrested protesters, justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families.

They also want increased salaries for police officers as well as the establishment of an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct.

Some state governments have now set up judicial panels of enquiry to investigate cases of police brutality, as directed by the National Economic Council (NEC) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, has warned that the federal government will not stand at akimbo and watch as protesters continue to disrupt the economy by closing strategic roads to traffic.

Minister of Informatiion and Culture, Lai Mohammed says he  didn’t ask NBC to shut down BBNaija. (DW)
Minister of Informatiion and Culture, Lai Mohammed says he didn’t ask NBC to shut down BBNaija. (DW)

“We are no longer dealing with #EndSARS but a volatile situation that can lead to anarchy if the government does not take some very firm steps to protect the lives and livelihood of innocent Nigerians,” Mohammed warned.

The organised protesters have set up a call center, hired private security outfits in certain locations and launched an online radio station called ‘Soro Soke’ as they continue to brave thugs and hostile environments across the states.

Protesters have also been robbed on their way back from overnight, sit-in protests where candle-lit rituals for victims of police brutality, are now commonplace.

At least 20 people have been killed since the latest protests commenced last week.

Some lawmakers and public officials continue to allege that the protests are being sponsored by disgruntled politicians.