Young Nigerians have protested the constant harassment and killings by the notorious police tactical unit, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS or FSARS).
Youth have called for the scrapping of the unit with #ENDSARS becoming the top trending hashtag globally.
The youth sat out last night keeping vigil across the country in protest.
The police unit which was set up to tackle armed robbers and other violent crimes have been noted for extra-judicial killing, arbitrary arrest and detention of young Nigerians for having tattoos, piercing their ears, styling their hair or for wearing dreadlocks, driving flashy cars and for having good phones.
Last week video showing the killing of a young woman trended across the social media and triggered another round of protests.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare had to take his concern about the operation of the unit, especially the attempt to criminalise young Nigerians to the Inspector General of Police.
Celebrities and social media influencers have now taken up the protest and have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to scrap the unit.
In Lagos where the protest started on Thursday with youth, stars and celebrities keeping vigil at the gate of the state House of Assembly, more young people joined on Friday with some report saying concerned mothers also joined in.
Stars that joined the protest in Lagos include: popular comedian, Debo Adebayo aka Mr Macaroni, Folarin ‘Falz’ Falana and Douglas ‘Runtown’ Agu.
On Twitter, ace music producer, Don Jazzy backed the protest, twitting “Even before the birth of these dreaded tactical squads, the average Nigerian’s rights have always been infringed on by the police. The brutality, illegal detentions, extortion and extrajudicial killings have been on for decades. We want a police force dat serves d people.#EndSARS”.
However, there were violent incidents in Osun and Abuja on Friday during the protests against police brutality and extortion.
It was gathered that in a bid to disperse the protesters, policemen shot indiscriminately.
In Osun state capital Osogbo, the protest caused gridlock at the Ola-Iya junction. It was learnt that the protesters pelted stones at the security operatives in a bid to resist any attempt to stop the protest.
The security operatives, who initially took cover beside their Armoured Personnel Carriers stationed at the junction, later shot indiscriminately to disperse the angry youths.
In the nation’s Abuja, security operatives tear-gassed and shot indiscriminately to disperse the protesters.
In his reaction to the protests, Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar praised the youth for expressing their rights to protest and pledged his support to them.
He wrote on his Twitter handle: “I woke up to the peaceful #EndSARSProtests going on in Lagos and other cities in the country.
“First, I would like to commend the tenacity of our brave youths who have stayed out on the streets all day and night to make their voices heard. I stand with you all.
“Protests are an essential part of any democracy as we have seen the world over, and should be seen as an opportunity for dialogue between our people and our leaders.
“Thus, it is essential that the fundamental rights of Nigerians to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression must be protected at all costs.
“I strongly condemn any disproportionate use of force on protesters across the nation. I also call on the relevant authorities to ensure our youths are heard, and all incidents of excessive use of force by security agencies against protesters are investigated”.