If there was ever a unit created whose objective was to carry out the opposite of the reason for their formation, that unit would be Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad, infamously known as SARS.
SARS, formed in 1992, is a unit of the Nigerian Police force. This unit is meant to be dealing with crimes of armed robbery and other offences having to do with firearms. According to Nigerians, not only do the SARS officers perpetrate the crimes they have been charged with stopping, but they also harass, assault, extort, kidnap, torture, rape and murder innocent Nigerian men, women, and even children.
Most of those that have fallen victim to SARS are young Nigerian men and women. These so-called ‘officers’, profile and prey on young men and women with beards, dreadlocks, coloured hair, what they perceive to be fancy clothes, jewellery, tattoos, piercings, smartphones, laptops, and cars. Among their many tactics, they falsely accuse these citizens of being fraudsters, and in some cases, killers so as to extort them. They have been doing this with impunity since as far back as 2016.
Currently, Nigerians are protesting for the end of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. On the 11th of October 2020; Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police “disbanded” SARS but Nigerians believe this is another lie being told by their government for this one unit has been disbanded numerous times, from 2017 to date. Protests will continue to go on until Nigerians believe their government has taken appropriate action to hold SARS, their operatives and everyone involved accountable.
During the few days of peaceful protests in Nigeria, 10s of innocent protesters and bystanders have been killed, with 100s either injured, harassed, assaulted, tortured, illegally detained or arrested. #SARSMustEnd