Nigeria‘s army is ready to effectively bring “law and order and deal with any situation decisively” if called upon amid protests against police brutality in major cities, according to army spokesman Colonel Sagir Musa.
Protests against the notorious police unit, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), have gone past a week even though the government announced on Sunday that the group has been disbanded. But the intention of the federal police service to redeploy former SARS officers, many of whom have been accused of various acts of corruption and crime, has been met with skepticism.
Another proposal by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to replace SARS with a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit, has infuriated protesters who have likened the plan to old wine in a new bottle.
But according to Bloomberg News, Nigeria’s army believes the protests include “subversive elements and trouble makers” and thus, the army is prepared to defend Nigeria’s democracy “at all cost”.
The ongoing protest in Nigeria has been described as the largest in a decade. How long it has taken and how big it has grown to attract global attention may have been unexpected by the government when the protest began on October 5.
According to Amnesty International, at least 10 lives have already been lost largely due to the force with which the police have met protesters. But the youthful crowds show no intention of going back home as tending social media posts signify a desire to continue until their demands are met.
Nigeria has a rather volatile history of military interventions in civic life. The country has experienced seven military coups and one bloody civil war since it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960.