Nigeria Abolishes a Special Unit of Its Police Force

Jack Thompson, Reporting Journalist

While this may come as a surprise, the rest of the world has continued existing throughout the abomination of our domestic news. And while the protests and distrust in this country may seem like we are going through quite the rare instance, calls for police reform are not limited to our shores: Nigeria is in the process of major protests and reforms as well. According to the Times, “a young man in Delta State, Nigeria was killed during a stop and search operation on October 3,” which has sparked an extraordinary response from the citizens of Nigeria, who called for the end of the police unit known as SARS, or the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. 

So, what is the Special Anti-Robbery Squad? Founded in the early 90’s, SARS was put together as a small team of plain clothes officers who were tasked with combating the rampant gang violence in Lagos. Gangs in Lagos at that time had essentially total control of many neighborhoods and were openly brutal to those who opposed them. For this purpose, SARS experienced success; however, gang violence is a continued issue in the city. Despite this, throughout the years, SARS has grown in size, and the lack of uniform and identification of these officers has opened loopholes for abuses of authority. The lack of identifiable factors on these officers has let instances of senseless violence such as stop and frisk situations turning bloody happen with no responsibility for officers involved. In addition to this, it lets police departments assume no responsibility as they can disprove any accusations due to their unidentifiable nature. As a result, communities in Nigeria widely distrust police officers, which has caused the protests of the past weeks. 

Protests in Lagos started on October 8th, with the overwhelming call to end SARS and implement major police reform. Much like the protests against police brutality in the US, police met demonstrators with hostility, killing ten people over the past week of protests. However, these protesters made a momentous impact, as on October 11, Mohammed Adamu, the general of police, announced the dissolving of SARS across the nation of Nigeria. This is certainly a historic occasion in Nigeria.

However, there is still a lot to be done. Protests continue to happen in full force and are currently being met with brutal retaliation from police. As Salesians, we can learn and gain perspective by observing historical moments such as this. Furthermore, as Americans, we can see that throughout all of this pandamonium, pandemic, and protests, we are all human beings who want decency from one another.