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UK government admits training and supplying equipment to Nigeria’s ‘brutal’ police unit

The minister for Africa James Duddridge admitted British officials had trained officers from the now-disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) between 2016 and 2020 – having initially denied any ties.

In a letter sent to Labour MP Kate Osamor on Thursday, the minister said SARS officers had participated in training “designed to improve human rights, training on public finance, and community policing workshops”. He also confirmed radio equipment was given to Nigerian police which was then used by SARS.

Ms Osamor – who had demanded the UK government reveal any ties to SARS – told The Independent: “It is shocking that in the middle of global protests to End SARS our government appears to have had no idea whether or not it was funding those very units.”

The MP said she had been told “categorically” by the minister earlier this month that no funding ever made its way to SARS units. “The government has now been forced to admit that it not only spent millions training SARS but also directly supplied them with equipment.”

She added: “The government now needs to explain how and why it ever felt it was appropriate to train and equip security forces which were known to have taken part in torture and extra-judicial killings.”

The End SARS movement emerged in Nigeria during early October in revolt against police brutality. Activists demanded the disbandment of the unit – accused by Amnesty International of torture and extra-judicial executions – after footage showed a man being beaten by an officer.