Police Brutality Hearings Begin In Nigeria Amid Protests

For nearly three weeks, protesters have taken to the streets in Nigeria to voice their frustration with continued acts of state violence. Tragically, these protests have led to more violence throughout Nigerian cities. Thus far, more than 50 people have died. Most notably, a dozen civilians were shot near the Lekki toll gate.

"There are no excuses for the unfortunate incident that took place last night [at the Lekki toll gate], and as the governor, I apologize for every action and inaction. I would like you to know that I am for you, I am with you and I understand that indeed you’re not happy with the turn of events last night," Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu tweeted.

One of the main sources of frustrations among Nigerian citizens has been the recently disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad. For years, citizens have complained about acts of harassment and torture at the hand of SARS. As a result, the unit was disbanded on October 11, but it was quickly replaced with a similar force.

This week, victims of torture and harassment have put their stories on display in court. On Tuesday, two complainants appeared before a judicial panel in Lagos. After the panel arrived two hours late, the first complainant, Okoye Agu, spoke about an incident he endured in 2012. Agu said he spent six weeks in SARS detention. While there, he says he was beaten, tortured and had two teeth extracted. Agu added that his mother and wife were beaten when they tried to check on his well being. Making matters worse, his property and car were stolen. In 2016, he was awarded more than $26,000 for his property, but he has yet to receive anything. After Agu spoke, another complainant spoke briefly, but was cut as the panel was adjourned.

Next week, the panel will reconvene with the police commissioner. The group will hear the second complainant and investigate last week's shooting at the Lekki toll gate.

Photo: Getty Images

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