24-hour curfew declared in Africa's biggest city
Protesters stand on a vehicle that is part of a military convoy sent to enforce the curfew - BENSON IBEABUCHI / AFP
According to four witnesses who fled the scene, protesters were shot and killed Tuesday evening at a toll booth in Lagos city center that has become the epicenter of widespread demonstrations.
It was unclear who shot the protesters, but several hundred people were in attendance, despite a curfew the government had imposed hours earlier as youth-led protests that began 12 days ago intensified.
Authorities imposed a 24-hour curfew on the Nigerian state of Lagos - including Africa's largest city - Tuesday in response to protests against alleged police brutality, which they believed had become violent.
The national police chief also ordered the immediate deployment of counterinsurgency forces following increased attacks on police facilities, a police spokesman said.
Lagos governor spokesman Gboyega Akosile said: "The curfew will not end tomorrow. A 24-hour curfew means around the clock, day and night. It is indefinite. Nobody moves until we lift the curfew. "
The citizens of the trading capital stocked up on groceries after the announcement. Staples like tomatoes and eggs sold out in some places as women closed stores in markets and people queued at ATMs.
GT Bank, one of the largest lenders in Nigeria, said all branches would be closed for the duration of the curfew.
Thousands of Nigerians calling for an end to the alleged police brutality have taken to the streets across the country every day for almost two weeks. Amnesty International said at least 15 people have been killed since the protests began.
For years, right-wing groups had accused the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a police unit against violent crime, of extortion, harassment and torture. But a video allegedly showing SARS officials killing a man in Delta State sparked the protests. Police denied the incident and broke up SARS on October 11, but protests continued.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the curfew would apply to all parts of the state, including metropolitan Lagos, Africa's largest city of 20 million people. Only essential employees were released.
It was imposed when the protests became violent, he said.
"I saw with shock how what began as a peaceful #EndSARS protest has degenerated into a monster that threatens the well-being of our society," said Sanwo-Olu.
A police station in the Orile Iganmu area of Lagos was set on fire Tuesday, television news channel Channels reported.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce said the Nigerian economy had suffered an estimated loss of 700 billion naira ($ 1.84 billion) in the past 12 days due to the disruption.
At the start of the protests, police fired at demonstrators in the Surulere area of Lagos and elsewhere. Armed gangs attacked protesters in Lagos and the capital, Abuja.
The southwest state of Ekiti imposed a curfew hours after the announcement in Lagos. Its governor said protests were "kidnapped" by criminals who "wanted to rape, attack, rob and blackmail innocent citizens."
Southern Edo state imposed a similar curfew on Monday after jailbreaking prisoners during protests. Police said they had strengthened jail security across the country.
Nigeria's Lower Chamber of Parliament spokesman Femi Gbajabiamila said he will only sign the 2021 federal budget if it includes provisions to compensate victims of police brutality over the past two decades.
Youth Minister Sunday Dare said Monday the government had complied with protesters' calls for talks on law enforcement reforms and asked them to enter into dialogue.
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