The Nigerian Army on Thursday said it could step in against “subversive elements and troublemakers” to maintain law and order in the country as protests against police brutality continued for the eighth consecutive day, reported The Guardian.
Since last few days, thousands of Nigerians have taken to the streets to protest against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, commonly known as Sars, that has been accused of unlawful killings and abuse, and against wider police brutality.
The protests erupted after a video circulated last week allegedly showing members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) shooting dead a man, named as Jimoh Isiaka, in Delta state. At least 10 people have died and dozens injured in the face of an initial harsh response by police in some locations.
Earlier this week, the Nigerian authorities confirmed that Sars would be dissolved with immediate effect. It also announced an investigation into allegations of crimes committed against Nigerian citizens, ensuring that the culprits will be punished.
An Amnesty International report claims that 82 alleged cases of SARS mistreating, torturing, and extra-judicially executing detainees. It said that the abuses were carried out under the supervision of high-ranking officers.
A new unit, the Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) team, was also announced. The Nigerian police also ensured that no members of the former unit would be eligible for the new one, promising its officers will be “barred from indiscriminate and unlawful searches”.
But protests have continued as they people are now demanding the government commit to prosecuting Sars officers and compensating victims.
On Thursday, the army warned in a statement that as the violence has intensified, it was “ready to fully support the civil authority in whatever capacity to maintain law and order and deal with any situation decisively”.
“All officers and men are directed never to be distracted by anti-democratic forces and agents of disunity,” the statement said.