]>> An online campaign calling for a specialist unit of Nigeria's police force to be scrapped, following allegations of human rights violations, has been trending on social media in the West African country in the past few days. My name is Alexis Akwagyiram. I'm senior Reuters Nigeria correspondent, and I'm reporting from the commercial capital, Lagos.
The special anti-robbery squad, better known here in Nigeria as SARS, has been charged with the task of fighting violent crime in Nigeria. But over the last few days, Nigerians have taken to social media, using the hashtag #ENDSARS, calling for this unit to be scrapped. They have shared pictures, anecdotes, and videos that they say show that members of the unit have carried out beatings, extortion, and in some cases, extra-judicial killings.
However, we have been unable to independently verify the veracity of the footage that we have seen. Now, this has come to the fore because over the last weekend, they say that a young man was killed here in Lagos by a member of that unit.>> The people that are actually supposed to be your friend, to protect you, are the ones assaulting and abusing you and physically manhandling you.
So, who protects the common man when the police itself has become lawless?>> This isn't the first time that members of Nigeria's police force have been accused. And in the past, they have routinely denied any wrongdoing.>> When you look at an allegation and the person making the allegation cannot provide you with the dates, time, and place of occurrence, then I think we should be careful the way we treat such allegations.
>> The outpouring of social media around the #ENDSARS hashtag provoked a swift response from Nigeria's police chief. He said that SARS will be restructured. In addition to that, lawmakers in the upper house of Parliament said that they would investigate allegations of any wrongdoing. Now critics of the police and specifically of SARS say that they don't believe that much will happen following this restructuring.
And they are planning a number of protests on the streets of cities across Nigeria in the coming days.