At least five cars were destroyed by the hoodlums, while an unconfirmed number of the protesters sustained injuries.
Protesters in Nigeria’s capital Abuja were attacked by “armed thugs” during ongoing demonstrations against the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police unit, a local activist said Wednesday.
“We should never assign a tribe or religion to thugs. What we should assign to them is thuggery,” Aisha Yesufu, a leading activist, said on Twitter.
“I grew up a very angry Nigerian. I watched citizens being brutalized on the streets by the military. I hated the corruption, poverty, and injustice. Honestly, these youths have been very civil and remained unprovoked in spite of government’s provocation,” the activist added.
On Tuesday, the Nigerian inspector general of police set up Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) to replace SARS.
On Sunday, Nigeria’s police chief dissolved SARS following protests against police brutality across the country.
Protesters had been going on for several days against the unit and besieged its headquarters.
They chanted “End SARS” and poured red paint on the street in front of the building – a symbolic reference to the alleged killings by SARS officers.
Despite the dissolution of SARS, the protesters continued their demonstrations calling for comprehensive police reforms — including punishments for erring officers — the unconditional release of all detained protesters and compensation for families of the victims of police brutality.
“The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and the livelihood of our people,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Bihari said on Twitter earlier this week.
In a recent report, Amnesty International said authorities failed to tackle the impunity enjoyed by SARS, whose brutality and corruption were “becoming increasingly brazen.”