The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is to help train Nigeria’s new tactical force as thousands nationwide continued to march against police brutality and in demand of further reforms, Nigerian Police Inspector General Mohammed Adamu said in a statement on Sunday.
Protests began about two weeks ago demanding the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, 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 the squad, though it said earlier this month that “unruly and unprofessional” officers had been arrested and were facing disciplinary proceedings.
A new unit, the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, was created to “fill the gaps” left when police disbanded the squad on Oct. 11.
SWAT training was to begin yesterday in partnership with the ICRC and “other development partners,” Adamu said in a statement.
Former Special Anti-Robbery Squad officers are not eligible to join SWAT, the statement said.
The ICRC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Nigerian police said that the ICRC would join the training on humanitarian laws, police conduct in conflict, and human rights in the use of force, arrest and detention.
Nigerian Senate President Ahmad Lawan, after meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday, called on protesters to stand down in light of the steps the government had taken, but protesters are demanding further protections against the police, including independent oversight and psychological evaluation of officers.
Hundreds of people on Saturday joined a prayer march in Port Harcourt, and peaceful marches and demonstrations continued in Lagos, Abuja, Warri, Enugu and Makurdi.
Supporters also launched an online radio station to bolster the movement.
Most demonstrations are now peaceful, after authorities barred police from using force against the protesters, but at least two were killed around demonstrations on Saturday in Osogbo, Osun state, a spokesman for Osun Governor Gboyega Oyetola said.
The spokesman said that an angry mob had attacked Oyetola’s convoy, and that one person was killed before he arrived and the second after he had left.
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