'People are dying': Thousands call on AU, Ramaphosa to investigate police brutality in Nigeria

22 October 2020 - 11:53
By cebelihle bhengu AND Cebelihle Bhengu
President Cyril Ramaphosa is the current chairperson of the AU.
Image: GCIS President Cyril Ramaphosa is the current chairperson of the AU.

Scores of people have called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in his capacity as the AU chairperson to quell the killings of protesters in Nigeria.

“It must be noted with sadness and dismay that the useless AU, led by Cyril Ramaphosa, has turned a blind eye on the killings of innocent protesters by the Nigerian government. Waiting for the western countries to speak first and you'll send useless envoys?” tweeted Pastor Pule Mofokeng.

Nigerians have been protesting for two weeks, initially demanding that the government disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) which has been accused of violence, brutality and torture. At least 15 protesters have been killed since the demonstrations began, according to Amnesty International.

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari announced the disbandment of the unit on October 11. He said this was the first step towards addressing the concerns of “agitated” Nigerians.

“The disbanding of Sars is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reform, to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remain the protection of lives and livelihoods of our people,” said Buhari.

He said the government would ensure accountability for police responsible for the killings of protesters. On police brutality, he said most members of the law enforcement bodies were “hardworking men and women” and attributed the violence to “a few bad eggs who must not be allowed to tarnish the image and reputation of the force”.

This did not end the protests as they continue to spread and have evolved into demonstrations against the overall state of the country.

Nigerians in SA took to the streets of Cape Town and Pretoria on Wednesday to protest against their government.

We want the restructuring of the system entirely. None of these institutions are working. The police force, medical, legal and education institutions have collapsed,” said Collins Mgbo, head of secretariat at Nigerian Union SA.

Here are some of the responses: