Lagos declares curfew over protests

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020 00:00 |
Nigerian Police fire teargas at people during clashes between youths in Apo, Abuja, Nigeria, yesterday, following the ongoing demonstrations. Photo/AFP

Lagos, Tuesday

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.”

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. 

In neighbouring Guinea, opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo declared Monday, without waiting for official results, that he had won a presidential election against incumbent Alpha Conde, who is seeking a controversial third term.

Speaking at a press conference in the capital Conakry a day after the hotly contested first-round vote, Diallo said he had emerged “victorious” despite “anomalies which marred the ballot”.

“I invite all my fellow citizens who love peace and justice to stay vigilant and committed to defend this democratic victory,” the 68-year-old said, dressed in a sky-blue robe, from his party headquarters.

Outside the building, jubilant supporters chanted “Cellou, president”. But elsewhere in the city, joyous celebrations by supporters devolved into clashes with security forces.

Three “young boys” were shot dead and several people wounded, Diallo tweeted on Monday night. A government official said there was “not enough information” to comment on the matter.

AFP was unable to independently confirm the deaths. AFP journalists saw several wounded people in a Conakry suburb, however, as well as a barracks set ablaze by protesters.

The unrest follows months of protests against a potential third term for 82-year-old President Conde in the West African nation, during which dozens of people were killed.

Although polling day was mostly calm, Diallo’s self-proclaimed election victory has set the stage for a showdown with Conde. - AFP

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