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Lagos imposes 24-hour curfew as Nigeria anti-police protests worsen

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The Nigerian Police Force fires teargas at protesters during a demonstration to press for the scrapping of Special Ant-Robbery Squad (SARS) on Abuja-Keffi Expressway, Abuja, Nigeria on October 19, 2src2src.

The Nigerian Police Force fires teargas at protesters during a demonstration to press for the scrapping of Special Ant-Robbery Squad (SARS) on Abuja-Keffi Expressway, Abuja, Nigeria on October 19, 2020. © Kola Sulaimon, AFP

Authorities declared a 24-hour curfew in Nigeria’s economic hub Lagos Tuesday as violence flared in widespread protests that have rocked cities across the country.

Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced only “essential service providers and first responders” would be allowed on the street from 4pm (1500GMT).

“I have watched with shock how what began as a peaceful #EndSARS protest has degenerated into a monster that is threatening the well-being of our society,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Lives and limbs have been lost as criminals and miscreants are now hiding under the umbrella of these protests to unleash mayhem on our state.”

“We will not watch and allow anarchy in our dear state.”

I, therefore, hereby impose a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the State as from 4pm today, 20th October,2020. Nobody, except essential service providers and first responders must be found on the streets.

— Babajide Sanwo-Olu (@jidesanwoolu) October 20, 2020

Protests that began 12 days ago over abuses by the police’s loathed Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have spiralled dramatically.

Some 18 people have died in the demonstrations as clashes have been reported between protesters and assailants dressed in civilian clothes.

Lagos, a city of 20 million, has been paralysed as crowds have blocked key roads and access to the international airport.

Witnesses told AFP that a police station was set ablaze in the Orile Iganmu district of the city on Tuesday.

In the capital Abuja, crowds were violently dispersed by security forces Tuesday and thick black smoke could be seen over the city, an AFP photographer said.

Tensions were high after news of three deaths in the city during unrest on Monday.

“The command has launched an investigation into the matter and normalcy has been restored to the area,” said police spokesman Mariam Yusuf.

“However, about three persons were reported dead and some cars damaged.”

The government has announced the scrapping of SARS and a raft of reforms to the police in a bid to placate the protesters.

But many of the young demonstrators are sceptical of the official promises and their demands have grown to include more sweeping changes in Africa’s most populous nation.

Officials have called for protesters to suspend the demonstrations to give the government time to make good on its pledges.

(AFP)

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