In an open letter to the authorities in Nigeria, over 80 writers across Africa said they were strongly against police brutality in Nigeria, especially the tyrannical persecution of innocent Nigerians by the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).
The writers who listed their names at the end of the letter expressed their dismay over the use of force by the Nigeria Police Force to stop the growing peaceful #EndSARS protests across the country.
They also noted and condemned threats by the Nigerian military against the protesters.
“We note that, as Chinua Achebe said, ‘We cannot trample on the humanity of others without devaluing our own’,” the writers stated.
“Nigerian authorities and the police have devalued themselves by keeping SARS in effect for as long as they have.
“This cannot be undone by merely disbanding, dissolving or otherwise rebranding SARS as SWAT, while still intimidating Nigerians who are exercising their rights to peaceful protest.
“The list of innocent Nigerians who have been harassed, falsely imprisoned, tortured and extrajudicially murdered by SARS operatives is as long as the absence of justice for these victims is resounding,” the writers observed.
According to the writers, a good police reform should be put in place with the persecution of police officers found guilty of atrocities. This will do justice for the victims of the SARS brutalities in Nigeria.
The writers, therefore, condemned what they called the “continued determination of the Nigeria Police Force” to hide or shield officers accused of crimes against humanity and redeploying them to another unit or changing the name of the dreaded SARS to SWAT.
“We, therefore, condemn the continued determination of the Nigeria Police Force to shield officers indicted in flagrant acts of brutality by either promoting them or redeploying them away from places where their reprehensible acts of cruelty have drawn public ire, or by replacing the label on SARS with SWAT.
“Because the dead cannot cry out for justice, it is our duty, as the living and as writers and humans, to demand it for them.
“And so we stand firm to demand that every officer of SARS and the Nigeria Police Force in general who commits acts of brutality against our innocent brothers and sisters in Nigeria be subjected to an independent judicial inquiry.
“We condemn the continued police harassment, arrest, detention and torture of peaceful protesters against police brutality as well as the empowerment and deployment of undesirable elements and sponsored thugs to attack protesters in Lagos, Abuja and Kano and other parts of the country by parties acting on behalf of the Nigerian state.
“We note the threat by the Nigerian military to unleash its habitual terror on protesters and condemn this in the strongest terms.
“These protests are peaceful and are expressions of the fundamental rights of Nigerians, who should not be threatened by the military, the police or thugs while they go about the peaceable expression of their constitutional rights.”
The writers called the Nigerian Government to take concrete measures to start police reforms immediately and to ensure policing is done with openness and transparency.
They finally stated that they stand with the victims of police brutality and Nigerians protesting on the streets of Nigeria and asked people all over the world to support the agitations for justice for the victims of police brutality in Nigeria.
Nigeria Police Force said none of the police officers in the disbanded SARS unit would be redeployed to the new formed SWAT.
The Police had on Saturday, October 17, released some names of police officers demoted or fired due to the allegations of brutality as forwarded by the committee formed to respond to the claims.