The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission has said it has noted with concern that demonstrations by Nigerian youth calling for police reform, particularly the abolition of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police, accused of misconduct by those demonstrating, have turned violent.
Scores of Nigerians and some security officers have been killed during the violent protests in the oil-producing West African nation.
The Commission in a statement on Wednesday October 21 expressed its condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives during the protests and wishes the injured a speedy recovery.
“While ECOWAS Commission recognizes the right of citizens to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and protests, it also wishes to stress that those rights should be exercised in a non-violent manner.
“In this regard, ECOWAS Commission calls on all protesters to remain peaceful in the conduct of their demonstrations. It also urges the Nigerian security operatives to exercise restraint in the handling of the protests and act professionally,” the statement said.
It added that “ECOWAS Commission further notes that, in an effort to address the demands of the protesting youth, the Federal Government of Nigeria took important decisions regarding disbandment of SARS, comprehensive police reforms and investigation of cases of police brutality. It encourages the Nigerian Authorities to conduct the investigation rapidly.”