#EndSARS protests - OkayAfrica

Youths of ENDSARS protesters display the Nigerian flag and a placard in a crowd in support of the ongoing protest against the harassment, killings and brutality of The Nigerian Police Force Unit called Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the Lagos State House of Assembly on October 13, 2020.

Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nigeria Controversially Replaces SARS With SWAT Amid Continued Protests

Nigeria has announced that the newly formed police unit SWAT will replace SARS. However, Nigerians have now continued their protests under #EndSWAT in an enduring call to end all forms of police brutality.

According to Naira Metrics, Nigerian Inspector General, Mohammed Adamu, announced on Tuesday that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) will be replaced by newly formed police unit SWAT. This news follows the reported disbandment of SARS following over five days of intense protest action against the rogue security unit. Adamu stated that the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) will fill in the gaps left by SARS' absence. This swift announcement has been met with skepticism and resistance by protesting Nigerians who have already started #EndSWAT together with #SARSMustEndNow on social media.

READ: Breaking Down Nigeria's #EndSARS Protests and How You Can Help

News of the launch of SWAT follows the release of conflicting messages from Nigeria's government. President Muhammadu Buhari had initiallystated that Nigeria was looking into the reformation of SARS through a series of tweets this past Sunday. On the other hand, Adamu released a statement of the disbandment of SARS. President Buhari's announcement did not set well with Nigerians who are well versed with reading between the lines. Protestors continued even after the luke-warm announcement of disbanding SARS took place and proceeded to block Lagos' Lekki tollgate, bringing the city to a standstill.

SWAT has reportedly already recruited members. Adamu stated that prospective members will start training next week and will undergo medical and psychological tests. Additionally, former SARS members will reportedly undergo debriefing and be dispersed into police offices across the country. The swiftness of this transition has been seen as "suspicious" by many Nigerians. This is because the call for disbanding SARS was a call to an end all special security forces. Many Nigerians are now calling the formation of SWAT a mere "rebranding" of SARS. Since former members of SARS are suspected to form a part of SWAT itself, there appears to be no difference between the fear mongering police units.

Furthermore, the disbandment of SARS calls for a critical analysis of Nigeria's governance. The creation of such special security unit is apparently an "administrative creation" that does not require presidential or legislative permission. According to the Daily Post, President Buhari does not need to sign an executive order to disband SARS. Politically and administratively, this is akin to the tail wagging the dog. This "administrative creation" questions the legitimacy of SWAT and how President Buhari's delegations of power to organs of state such as the police, places the rights of Nigerians at ransom.

Nigerians youth took the streets last week after SARS allegedly killed a civilian man without cause. The first public demonstrations calling for the unit's disbandment erupted in December of 2017. After #EndSARS caught the attention of international media, solidarity from the African diaspora soon followed. #EndSWAT has been trending on Twitter from this morning.