By Tim McNulty
THE BRITISH government have been urged to halt all military and police training to Nigeria’s notorious SARS units.
These calls follow weeks of state violence against END SARS protestors in Nigeria who have been demonstrating against police brutality.
Yesterday James Duddridge, Minister for Africa, confirmed that the UK has provided training and communications equipment to the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit, which has been linked to extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention and other abuses.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “The brutal crackdown that we have seen inflicted on anti-SARS protesters is appalling and must be condemned in the strongest terms.
“The SARS unit is not fit for purpose, and UK forces should not have been working with it or doing anything that could strengthen it.
“There must be an immediate suspension to all police and military training provided by UK personnel, and a full and urgent investigation into if any of the forces or individuals trained by UK forces have been implicated in the terrible violence that we have seen.”
There have also been multiple accusations of torture and abuses against the Nigerian military. A 2020 report from Amnesty International found that at least 10,000 people have died in military detention over the last decade.
Reporting from Amnesty shows that at least 10 protesters were killed in a shooting in Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos on October 20. The organisation alleges that military personnel opened fire on protesters.
The Nigerian army initially denied that it was present, but has subsequently confirmed that it was, although it denies that the shooting was done by military personnel.
In 2017 there were 350 UK military personnel in Nigeria for military training purposes, with over 6000 Nigerian troops being trained.
The UK has licensed £43 million worth of arms since 2015, including £19 million worth of military vehicles and almost £1 million worth of small arms.
Nigerian forces have been regular attendees of UK arms fairs, including DSEI, which they most recently attended in 2019 and Security & Policing, which focuses on policing equipment which they last attended in 2019.
Mr Smith added: “The UK government has a long and shameful history of arming, supporting and enabling human rights abusers around the world. It should not be providing moral cover for those that commit abuses, or doing anything that can help them to become more effective in their repression.”
The Ministry of Defence were contacted for comment.
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