Nigeria’s Catholic bishops have endorsed recent youth protests calling for an end to police brutality and corruption in the country.
In a statement signed by Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), the Nigerian bishops gave their “full support of the ongoing action by Nigerian youths who are seeking an end to police brutality and general reform of the security system.”
Protesters recently called for the dissolution of the controversial Nigerian police’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which was set up in 1984 to combat armed robbery but which has frequently been accused of extortion, use of excessive force, and extrajudicial killings.
After protests in the #EndSARS movement swept the country, the Inspector General of Police dissolved the SARS force on October 11, but protestors have continued to call for the release of imprisoned protesters, compensation for victims and the conviction of those guilty of police brutality.
Tensions escalated after police used tear gas, water cannons and live ammunition against protestors, with at least 10 people killed and hundreds more injured.
In their letter, the country’s Catholic bishops condemned the “extra-judicial killings, unlawful arrests, profiling of youths as criminals, the invasion of youths’ privacy by searching phones and laptops without any warrant or any just cause, and the incarceration of many of the youths in the SARS custody without trial.”
“EndSARS goes beyond the SARS and it is morally justified. We support the youths who have taken this step and we caution that they are allowed without any intimidation to exercise their right to peaceful demonstration and should not be provoked or incited to violence,” the bishops said.
“We the members of the CBCN have followed the protests with keen interest and call on the Federal Government of Nigeria once again to listen to the cry for justice so that peace can reign in our country. The protest seems to have a life of its own and it is spreading all over the country; this shows that most Nigerians are facing the same oppression and brutality inflicted by the SARS.
“We urge the Federal Government to fulfil its primary constitutional responsibility of securing life and property of every Nigerian and provide opportunities for our children to realise their God-given potentials.
“The audacity and impunity with which the SARS officials have been operating all the while is a manifestation of the failing State of Nigeria. Various bodies and patriotic Nigerians have expressed the opinion that just ending the SARS will not solve the enormous problems of Nigeria, because it is futile treating symptoms of a disease when the root cause is known.”
FEATURED IMAGE: Photograph of protesters at the #EndSARS protest in Lagos, Nigeria. Provided by Kaizenify under a CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.
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