The International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched a preliminary examination into the recent End SARS protests in Nigeria, reported Africa News. The protest, which started in Lagos last month, was repeatedly dispersed by the police in Lagos and Abuja.
The people of Nigeria took to the streets to protest against police brutality, calling for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious unit of the Nigerian Police which has long been accused of unlawful arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings. The protests began over a video that showed a man being beaten, apparently by police officers from the SARS unit. The police authorities subsequently disbanded the unit and announced a replacement for it.
For two weeks thousands of protesters gathered on the streets to protest peacefully. But the peaceful protests in Nigeria turned violent later after soldiers fired live ammunition on #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, on October 20.
International Rights group, Amnesty International claimed that at least 12 people were killed when government forces fired upon protesters during anti-police brutality demonstrations. But the Nigerian Army through its 81 Division said that soldiers were deployed at the instance of the state government but denied shooting protesters.
The rights group accused the military of plotting to cover up the killings. Countries and several foreign bodies have called for prosecution of those responsible in the incident. The African Union Commission’s chairman and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also condemned the violent clashes urged Nigerian security forces to exercise restraint in handling protests.
According to the Nigerian police, 22 officers were killed and 205 stations were burned during national protests.
Last month, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari also urged the protesters to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage the government in finding solutions.
The ICC has assured that the findings of the formal inquiry into the crimes committed during the protests will be made public.