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Nigeria’s Rogue Security Unit in the Spotlight

Graphic footage showing officers from Nigeria’s “Sars” police unit dragging two men from a hotel in Lagos and shooting one of them in the street has sparked mass fury across the country and fuelled long-held demands for reform. In the disturbing footage taken by visitors at a hotel and posted on to social media on Saturday, armed officers of the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad, commonly called Sars, can be seen dragging two limp bodies from the hotel compound into the street before one of the men is shot. The video has sparked a deluge of footage and stories posted on to social media alleging recent atrocities and brutality by the notorious Sars unit, long accused of rampant abuses. The unit, spread around the country, often operates in plainclothes, brandishing heavy weapons and setting up roadblocks for indiscriminate searches, fuelling widespread anger that they are often indistinguishable from armed criminals. In response to the outcry at a lack of accountability for police abuses, several government and police officials promised urgent reform. Several public figures and celebrities, including the Afrobeats stars Wizkid and Davido, have condemned the killings, joining a prominent social media-led campaign to “end Sars”, which has for years called for the unit to be dissolved.