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Podcast host says wealthy victims brought attention to controversial Nigerian police unit

Angie Speaks, the co-host of the Low Society podcast, said Monday that wealthy victims brought the recent attention to Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and protests against the unit.

Speaks, who is also a YouTuber, told Hill.TV’s “Rising” that SARS was established in 1992 to address armed robberies but instead “exacerbated” the problem as its officers were not paid well and resorted to “extorting the public”

She said police particularly targeted expats, or people who moved back to Nigeria after living in a different country. 

“And because they’re quite conspicuous, they’re often targeted by police,” she said. “And since this demographic is more moneyed and has more exposure and more savvy in terms of things like social media, they were able to bring attention to this issue.”

“But it’s a shame that the issue got attention as soon as it started to affect people who come from a higher-class background,” she added. 

The hashtag #EndSARS spread across Twitter this month as Nigerians protested against police brutality and for police reform. Officials dissolved SARS earlier this month, but reports of some unit members being hired for different jobs have caused demonstrations to continue, The Washington Post reported.

Another hashtag, #LekkiMassacre, trended last week after security forces in Nigeria allegedly opened fire on protesters near the Lekki toll gate plaza.