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Nigerians take to the streets in protests against controversial police unit accused of brutality

October 9, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Nigeria's leading celebrities and activists have organized mass protests across major cities in the country Friday demanding an end to police brutality in the country.

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)Nigeria's leading celebrities and activists have organized mass protests across major cities in the country Friday demanding an end to police brutality in the country.

The nationwide protests were a culmination of weeks of anger and outcry online by the country's young people over claims of kidnapping, harassment and extortion by a police unit known as the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).

Nigeria's police force had responded to the public outcry last Sunday by banning the unit from carrying out any stop-and-search activities.

CNN put this and other allegations to the Nigerian police force, and Lagos state spokesman Muyiwa Adejobi said that all complaints against its officers are carefully investigated and appropriate sanctions applied to offenders.

The police say that the ban on the SARS unit is one of many steps towards reforming the outfit.

"A similar ban on SARS did not end police brutality because it appeared the bans were simply done to assuage the swelling public anger at the time of the announcement and not intended to end police brutality," Amnesty Nigeria's program manager, Seun Bakare, said.

The hashtag #EndSARS, #StopPolicebrutality has continued to trend on Twitter as young people shared their stories, photos and videos that they allege show men in Nigeria police uniforms searching their cars and harassing them.

Lagos-based entrepreneur Samuel Otigba told CNN he has had several encounters with members of the police that he believes to be from the SARS unit.

Between 2017 and 2020, Amnesty International said it has documented 82 cases of police brutality in Nigeria.

Nigeria police chief Mohammed Adamu warned against "the invasion of the privacy of citizens particularly through indiscriminate and unauthorized search of mobile phones, laptops, and other smart devices," while Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recently held a meeting with police chiefs over the issue, according to a statement from the Presidency.

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