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Nigerian police pledge ICRC training as thousands protest nationwide

October 19, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Protesters stand with signs during a demonstration calling for the scrapping of the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad "SARS" police unit, in Ikeja, on October 8, 2020. - Nigeria's top police chief on October 4 banned a controversial anti-robbery unit and other special agents from mounting roadblocks and carrying out stop-and-search operations over accusations of abuses. Inspector-General of Police Muhammed Adamu said the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and other tactical squads must stop such operations "with immediate effect". Adamu said the decision followed findings that "a few personnel" in undercover tactical squads have abused their position "to perpetrate all forms of illegality". (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP) (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will help train Nigeria's new tactical force as thousands nationwide continued to march against police brutality and in demand of further reforms, Nigeria's police inspector general said in a statement on Sunday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will help train Nigeria's new tactical force as thousands nationwide continued to march against police brutality and in demand of further reforms, Nigeria's police inspector general said in a statement on Sunday.

Protests began roughly two weeks ago demanding the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which was accused by Nigerians and groups such as Amnesty International of extortion, brutality and torture.

The police force has repeatedly denied the accusations against SARS, though it said earlier this month that "unruly and unprofessional" officers had been arrested and were facing disciplinary actions

The new unit, the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, was created to "fill the gaps" left when police disbanded SARS on Oct. 11.

SWAT training will begin on Monday in partnership with the ICRC and "other development partners", Mohammed Adamu, inspector general of police, said in a statement.

Former SARS officers are not eligible to join SWAT, the statement said.

Police said the ICRC would join training on humanitarian laws, police conduct in conflict, and human rights in the use of force, arrest and detention.

But protesters are demanding further protections against the police, including independent oversight and psychological evaluation of officers.

Most demonstrations are now peaceful, after authorities barred police from using force against protesters.

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