The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), representing approximately 1,5 million working people in South Africa is disturbed by the recent violence and brutalisation of ordinary people in Nigeria where protesters in the most populous country in Africa, have been demanding that the government disband a rogue police unit called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, commonly known as SARS.
Members of this seemingly untamed organ of the state have been accused of robbing, torturing, and even killing well-dressed young people who the officers think might have money. The crowds have also called for the punishment of officers who commit brutality.
COSATU is further outraged by the incident where soldiers opened fire on protestors yesterday (20th October 2020), in the Lekki district of the commercial capital of Lagos shooting at least two people. Amnesty International has said at least fifteen people had been killed since the protests began.
We note that President Buhari agreed last week, to dismantle SARS and carry out other police reforms, vowing to “ensure that all those responsible for misconduct are brought to justice”. However, the people of Nigeria know from the previous experience that the government has promised before to do away with SARS, yet it still exists, and they argue that a newly created police unit will just be the same menace in new uniforms.
COSATU condemns the attacks launched against the protesters in Nigeria, and further demands an end to police brutality and all related abuses nationwide. The accumulated anger of citizens over decades of failure in the delivery of basic social services, endemic corruption, and impunity of political office holders has precipitated distrust of, and lack of confidence in the state and its institutions. These frustrations are visible in the pent-up anger, which has been boiling over in mass street protests in cities across the country. We, therefore, support this readiness to resist bad governance in all its ramifications.
The federation stands unwavering against any form of human rights violation globally, more so when it involves opening fire on innocent people. COSATU calls on the African Union (AU), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to send a strong message to President Muhammadu Buhari and his government to immediately put an end to the arrests, detention and torture of protestors in Nigeria.
Issued by COSATU
Sonia Mbunda-Kaziboni(Cosatu International Secretary )
Cell: 072 535 1577
Tel: 011 339 4911 | 010 291 1335 (ext)