Lagos Imposes Indefinite Curfew to Curb Nigeria Protests as Police Deploy Anti-Riot Squad

Photo courtesy of Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP - Getty Images

Thousands of Nigerians demanding an end to alleged police brutality have taken to the streets every day for nearly two weeks.

Posted: Oct 20, 2020 3:26 PM
Updated: Oct 20, 2020 3:30 PM

NBC News- LAGOS — Authorities on Tuesday imposed a round-the-clock curfew on the Nigerian state of Lagos, which includes Africa's biggest city and the commercial heart of the country, in response to ongoing protests against alleged police brutality, which they said had turned violent. The national police chief also ordered the immediate deployment of anti-riot forces following increased attacks on police facilities, a police spokesman said.

"The curfew will not end tomorrow. A 24-hour curfew means all round the clock, day and night. It is indefinite. Nobody moves until we lift the curfew," the Lagos state governor's spokesman, Gboyega Akosile, said.
Citizens in the commercial capital urgently stocked up on food after the announcement. Staples such as tomatoes and eggs were sold out in some places, as markets closed and people queued at cash machines.
GT Bank, one of the largest lenders in Nigeria, said all its branches would remain closed for the duration of the curfew.
Thousands of Nigerians demanding an end to alleged police brutality have taken to the streets every day for nearly two weeks across the west African country. 

Human rights organization, Amnesty International said at least 15 people had been killed since the protests began.

Rights groups had for years accused the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police unit targeting violent crime, of extortion, harassment and torture. But a video allegedly showing SARS officers killing a man in Delta state sparked the recent protests.
Police denied the incident and disbanded SARS on Oct. 11, but protests have persisted with the social media hashtag #EndSARS garnering support online.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the curfew would apply to all parts of the state, including the metropolis of Lagos, Africa's largest city with 20 million inhabitants. Only essential workers would be exempted.

The curfew was imposed as the protests had turned violent, he said.
"I have watched with shock how what began as a peaceful #EndSARS protest has degenerated into a monster that is threatening the wellbeing of our society," Sanwo-Olu said.

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce said Nigeria's economy had suffered an estimated loss of 700 billion naira ($1.84 billion) in the last 12 days due to the disruption.
Early in the protests, police fired on protesters in the Surulere area of Lagos and elsewhere. Armed gangs have attacked protesters in Lagos and the capital Abuja.
The speaker of Nigeria's lower chamber of parliament, Femi Gbajabiamila, said he would not sign off on the federal budget for 2021 unless it included provisions to compensate victims of police brutality over the past two decades.
Youth minister Sunday Dare said on Monday, the government had met demonstrators' demands for talks on reforms in law enforcement and urged them to enter into a dialogue.
Officials said they also fear a surge in coronavirus infections due to people attending demonstrations.

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