Nigerian leader vows extensive police reforms amid protests against brutality

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to reform the police amid citizen protests across the country calling on the government to end cases of police brutality.

Speaking at an event in Abuja on Monday, Buhari said the disbanding of a special crime-fighting unit on Sunday was the first step to extensive police reforms by the government.

 

"I would like to use this opportunity to say a word on the recent genuine concerns and agitations by Nigerians about the excessive use of force and in some cases extra-judicial killings and wrongful conduct of the men of the Nigerian Police Force," the president said, directing that all those responsible for the misconduct or wrongful acts within the police be brought to justice.

 

Major cities like Abuja and Lagos witnessed days of protests by citizens and celebrities who raised their voices on high decibel against cases of police misconduct like torture, ill-treatment, and extrajudicial execution, mostly by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit created by the police with noble anti-robbery intentions.

 

The police authorities on Sunday disbanded the special squad across police commands in the country, saying the scrapping of that police unit was in response to the yearnings of Nigerians.

"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 livelihood of our people," Buhari said at the government-organized event, a launching of entrepreneurship empowerment program aimed to address the needs of unskilled and less educated youth.

The Nigerian leader mourned the death of a young man in the southwestern state of Oyo, allegedly shot dead by the police during the protest at the weekend.

He also directed that the circumstances of his death "should be thoroughly investigated".

"The few bad eggs should not be allowed to tarnish the image and reputation of the force," he said further on the reason for which the police reforms were necessary.

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