The UN Secretary General Urges An End To The Police Brutality In Nigeria 

In a statement released on Wednesday by António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, he criticized “the violent escalation on 20 October in Lagos which resulted in multiple deaths and caused many injuries.” On Tuesday night, Nigerian Security Forces let loose on protesters in Lagos. Nigerian citizens were in the streets protesting the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS. Although the Government has promised to further reform the police force and improve its accountability from the now disbanded SARS, tensions still remain. The gunshots were fired on Tuesday evening in an inhumane effort by police to disperse the protesters in the streets who were out past the mandated curfew. With numerous deaths and injuries, the UN Chief is calling an end to the violence and expressed his condolences to the families involved. 

It is important that the government and Nigerian authorities effectively “investigate these incidents and hold the perpetrators accountable,” urged Guterres. He also called upon the authorities to act peacefully and non-violently to protesters and show “maximum restraint.” The UN has also expressed its ability to provide support and resources to Nigeria if needed so that they can effectively resolve these national disagreements. It is essential that the Nigerian authorities find a way to de-escalate the situation as soon as possible to reduce the harm to its citizens. 

Before the events that escalated on October 20th, the country had already been experiencing tensions and  “was already at boiling point before this shooting because of the revelations about years of unchecked violence, including alleged killings, rape, extortion and other violations, by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad,” said the UN’s High Comissioner. Although the government and the authorities have already dissolved SARS, they still need to hold the members of SARS accountable for their inhumane acts and charge them against the law. This kind of inaction has caused the public to distrust the authorities in charge and the people are continuing to take to the streets to vocalize their distrust. The government has yet to address the root cause of this unrest, and replacing the SARS so quickly with another SWAT police force has not resolved anything. 

“Nigerians, like everyone else, have a fundamental right to peaceful assembly and protest,” and the government needs to take this very seriously. It is extremely important that in the next couple days that the Nigerian authorities take positive steps and measures to ensure these rights are met and that they step in to stop others who intend to prevent these peaceful protests through violence.

Sophia Seemann

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