In late 2017, Nigerian human rights defenders and activists launched a massive campaign tagged #EndSARS. The campaign was aimed at drawing attention to human rights violations committed by the Special AntiRobbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian police tasked with fighting violent crimes such as robbery
and kidnapping. Since 2014, Amnesty International has documented widespread human rights violations including extrajudicial executions, torture, and other ill-treatment, rape and extortion by officers of the SARS. Nigerians in their hundreds marched across major cities in the country, calling on the government to disband SARS, as well as to prosecute SARS officers who have perpetrated human rights violations. Through videos and photos on social media, others shared horrendous stories of SARS officers abusing their victims.
The Nigerian police – after initially resorting to denial and threats towards the promoters of the campaign – finally admitted that SARS was involved in human rights violations and consequently promised reforms.
This report is based on five field research missions carried out by Amnesty International researchers in Rivers, Anambra, Enugu, Imo and Lagos States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), between January 2017 and February 2019, and interviews carried out before and after the missions. Amnesty International
researchers interviewed a total of 82 people, including victims, journalists, human rights defenders, witnesses of abuses, relatives of victims and lawyers. Most of the interviews were done in person, but some were conducted by telephone. Some names of victims and witnesses whose testimonies are included in this report have been withheld or changed, in order to protect their identities.
This report documents cases of extortion, torture and ill treatment by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020. It reveals a pattern of abuse of power by SARS officers and the consistent failure by the Nigerian authorities to bring perpetrators to justice. It highlights the deficiencies in Nigerian police accountability that contribute to, and exacerbate these violations. Amnesty international documented 82 cases between
January 2017 and May 2020. Detainees in SARS custody have been subjected to a variety of methods of torture including hanging, mock execution, beating, punching and kicking, burning with cigarettes, waterboarding, near-asphyxiation with plastic bags, forcing detainees to assume stressful bodily positions and sexual violence.