10 people have died in Nigeria's ongoing protests over police brutality, Amnesty International says

 

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)At least 10 people have died in protests over police brutality in Nigeria, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

The the human rights group told CNN police have used excessive force against unarmed protesters since the protests started last Thursday.

"So far, Nigerian Police have killed at least 10 people since the start of protests against callous operations of SARS," according to Amnesty International.

SARS refers to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a controversial Nigerian police unit that has been the target of nationwide protests demanding an end to police brutality. Police announced Sunday the unit will be dissolved.

"The excessive use of force by the police in response to the protests reveals the longstanding disregard for the right to life by Nigerian security forces," Amnesty said.

The agency said excessive use of force "without justifiable grounds is a crime under international law."

"Amnesty International therefore calls for an urgent review of the use of force and firearms by police officers against protesters and thorough, independent and impartial investigation into all cases of violence including deaths that occurred during the #EndSARS protests," Seun Bakare, head of programs at Amnesty International Nigeria, told CNN. 

CNN contacted Nigeria police spokesman Frank Mba repeatedly for a comment but did not receive a response.

Young men take part in a demonstration calling for the scrapping of the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS police unit, in Ikeja, on October 8.

Young men take part in a demonstration calling for the scrapping of the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS police unit, in Ikeja, on October 8.

A new tactical unit to replace the dissolved SARS will be known as Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT.

Former police officers from SARS will be part of the new unit but will undergo psychological and medical examinations to make sure they are fit, according to the inspector general of police, Mohammed Adamu.

"The officers are expected to undergo this process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties," said Adamu.

Victim was 'gentle and humble'

One of the people who died in the protests was identified as Jimoh Isiaq, 20. He was killed by a stray bullets fired at protester. He was standing some distance from the protesting crowd in Ogbomosho, southwest, Nigeria, his family says.

"The bullet police shot hit his abdomen and came out from the back," Jimoh Kazeem, Isiaq's elder brother, told CNN.

"Isiaq was very gentle and humble. I have not seen him fight anyone before. He is one of the pillars of our family. His death is very painful," Kazeem added.

Jimoh Isiaq's family says he was killed by stray bullets fired by the Nigerian police during protests. Police denied they shot at anyone.

Jimoh Isiaq's family says he was killed by stray bullets fired by the Nigerian police during protests. Police denied they shot at anyone.

Kazeem told CNN that Isiaq's widow is devastated and he leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter.

The family says it plans to sue the Nigerian police force if authorities don't investigate his killing.

"The protest was largely peaceful before the police fired that shot from the evidence we had gathered. We know the shots were fired by policemen stationed in Owode police station. We know the names of the officers that fired the shots. We are not short of evidence to prove police brutality," Hussein Afolabi, Isiaq's family lawyer, told CNN by phone.

"Three other persons were killed at Ogbomosho (on Sunday) and we have several others injured. We spoke to a lot of people on the ground. The other two are also unarmed protesters shot by the police. We have overwhelming evidence," said Afolabi. "People are complaining against police brutality. It is in our face, it is everywhere."

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