President Buhari orders the police to address claims of police brutality


STUNG by protests against police brutality, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the country’s police leadership to address citizens’ concerns and ensure that rogue officers are brought to book.

On the day that police fired teargas to disperse dozens of protesters, Buhari summoned Nigeria’s inspector general of the police. “The Inspector General has my firm instructions to conclusively address concerns of Nigerians regarding excesses and ensuring erring personnel are brought to justice. I appeal for patience and calm, even as Nigerians freely exercise their right to peacefully make their views known,” Buhari said.

He said the Nigerian government’s determination to reform the police should never be in doubt. The president said he was being briefed regularly on the ongoing efforts to reform the police, end brutality, unethical conduct and ensure that the police remain fully accountable to the people.

“The vast majority of men and women of the Nigerian Police Force are patriotic and committed to protecting the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians, and we will continue to support them to do their job,” Buhari said.

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Sporadic protests have broken out across Nigeria in recent days after a video circulated last week alleging to show members of the Special Anti-Robbery squad, known as SARS, shooting dead a man in Delta state.

The police pledged to reform the unit soon after the alleged incident, including by banning SARS agents from carrying out routine patrols and requiring them to wear uniforms when on duty. But protesters have called for the unit to be abolished.

Nigerians and international rights groups for years have accused SARS of brutality, harassment and extortion, and there have been multiple pledges in the past, including from the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, to reform the unit.

#EndSARS has been trending on Twitter in Nigeria for several days, popular singer Naira Marley held an Instagram chat with a police spokesman over the issue watched live by more than 30,000 people and even the deputy governor of Lagos state said he had been harassed by SARS agents.

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“Every citizen of Nigeria should be upset,” Lagos state government spokesman Gboyega Akosile said in a Tweet, sharing a video of Lagos state Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat addressing protesters and sharing his own story of harassment. – Additional reporting by Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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