Rashford and Ozil add voices to #EndSARS campaign against police brutality

Nigeria youths protest SARSGetty

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford and Arsenal forward Mesut Ozil have added their voices to those calling for an end to the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigeria Police Force, which has since been disbanded by the government.

SARS have been accused of unlawful arrests, torture and killings, which has sparked mass protests across the country.

Images of those protests as well as of some of the alleged activities of SARS have been widely shared on social media, meaning the issue gained worldwide attention.

The #EndSARS hashtag gained traction on social media, with a number of well-known celebrities, sports stars and sports clubs responding by calling for change.

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright, Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and Serie A side Roma tweeted their support earlier this week to show solidarity for Nigerians.

Gunners star Ozil has now added his voice to those calling for change, tweeting: “Horrible to hear what’s been going on in Nigeria. Let's make this a trending topic everywhere. #EndSARS - My thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected.”

Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham, who has Nigerian heritage, tweeted: “Dear Nigeria #EndSARS #EndPoliceBrutality”

Abraham’s England team-mate Rashford then replied to Abraham’s tweet, adding: “My thoughts and prayers with all of those affected.”

Earlier this week, the federal government promised to reform the police unit, but citizens are demanding more than reorganisation, with a disbanding of SARS the goal of the protesters, who feel previous efforts to reform the police have not resulted in genuine change.

With the protests showing no sign of abating, it was confirmed on Sunday that the government had agreed to the protestors' demands, with a presidential directive disbanding SARS with immediate effect.

A government statement read: "The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force has been dissolved with immediate effect.

“All officers and men of the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) are to be redeployed with immediate effect.

“A new policing arrangement to address anticipated policing gaps the dissolution of SARS will cause is being worked on and will be announced by the Nigeria Police Force.”