LAGOS – The head of the Nigerian police disbanded his special anti-robbery team with immediate effect on Sunday, according to a police statement sparked by days of protests across the country against the alleged brutality of the controversial unit.
The protests erupted in the last few days after a video was circulated last week alleging that members of the unit known as SARS fatally shot a man in Delta state.
It also prompted a globally trending social media campaign to disband the group.
“The dissolution of SARS is a response to the desires of the Nigerian people,” the statement said.
Police redeployed members of the unit and announced a new strategy to address SARS’s remit in combating armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes.
The unit’s alleged persistent methods have been condemned for years by Nigerians, especially young people, who say SARS officers regularly attacked, beaten and blackmailed them.
Nigerian police used tear gas on Sunday to disperse hundreds of demonstrators in the capital, Abuja. This was a repetition of what witnesses on Friday referred to as similar events.
Police officers and politicians said they disbanded or reformed the group several times over the past few years, albeit with little noticeable changes, critics say.