The protesters were chased off the roads and made to choke on teargas fumes.
Protesters clamouring for police reform in Nigeria; and for an end to the extra-judicial killings and brutality that have become the hallmark of SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) have been met with teargas canisters in the nation’s capital city of Abuja.
“Protesters on their way to Police Force Headquarters have just been attacked by police officers with multiple teargas canisters shot into the crowd,” Demola, who tweets with the handle @OmoGbajabiamila, shared.
Another Twitter user @BrianJDenis said: “Police officers have opened fire at us with live bullets at Central Area, Abuja. Some people are injured because of panic.”
@EdoFirstLady wrote: “The police have chased us all with teargas and guns. Everywhere is in shambles.”
Across Nigeria, young people have hit the streets while calling for an end to police tactical squads that have since gone rogue.
Protesters in the country’s commercial capital city of Lagos have been led by celebrities. There have been protests against police brutality in Ibadan, Delta State, Enugu, Port Harcourt and elsewhere.
The protests across the country have been largely peaceful, even though there have been tense moments between the protesters and police personnel intent on keeping the peace.
In the course of recent nationwide protests, a police officer pulled the trigger right inside the mouth of a woman in Opebi, Lagos, leaving her in a pool of her own blood.
The latest outrage against SARS led Police Inspector General, Mohammed Adamu, to announce a number of restrictions to their operations on Sunday, October 4, 2020.
According to the new measures, FSARS and other tactical squads are banned from carrying out routine patrols, and other conventional low-risk duties including stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks, and traffic checks.
They are also banned from embarking on patrols or assignments without official uniform or tactical gear.
“The IGP has warned the tactical squads against the invasion of the privacy of citizens particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorized search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices.
“They are to concentrate and respond only to cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes when the need arises,” an official statement read.
Inspector-General of Police,
Police brutality has been a perennial concern in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has assured Nigerians that the issue is being addressed and that the police force will be reformed, but the excessive show of force on the streets and extra-judicial killings from police personnel haven’t abated since Osinbajo first made the promise two years ago.