SARS: Lagos protesters break curfew amid gunfire, chaos

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Nigeria’s anti-police protesters stayed on the streets in Lagos on Wednesday despite a government curfew following an evening of chaotic violence during which demonstrators were fired upon.

A heavy police presence was on the streets on Wednesday to enforce the round-the-clock curfew, hours after reports emerged of protesters being shot dead by security forces.

The state governor said 30 people were hurt within the shooting within the Lekki district of the commercial capital on Tuesday evening.

Four witnesses said soldiers fired the bullets and a minimum of two people were killed.The Nigerian army said on Twitter that no soldiers were at the scene at the time of the shooting.

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said 25 people were being treated for mild to moderate injuries, two were receiving medical care and three had been discharged following Tuesday’s shooting.

“I recognise the buck stops at my table and that i will work with the FG (federal government) to urge to the basis of this unfortunate incident and stabilise all security operations to guard the lives of our residents,” said Sanwo-Olu.

Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the capital Abuja, said things within the country’s largest city, Lagos, appears to be worsening.

“Things have gone from bad to worse in Lagos. We are hearing of pockets of violence within the city. In Lekki, where last night’s attack happened, there’s been cases of arson, and attacks on properties,” he said.

“We also are hearing that about 30 government buses are burnt down at a bus terminal . one among the leading private television stations in Nigeria is additionally off air. A source has told us it’s been burnt down by protesters. The station is owned by an influential politician who is within the same party because the president.”

Amnesty International said it had received “credible but disturbing evidence of excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos” on Tuesday, adding that it had been investigating “the killings”.

Another witness, Chika Dibia, said soldiers hemmed in people as they shot at them.

Video verified by Reuters press agency showed men walking slowly in formation towards demonstrators, followed by trucks with flashing lights, and therefore the sound of gunfire popping. Another video showed the toll gate itself, with a protester waving a Nigerian flag, as people ran amid the sound of gunfire.

Thousands of Nigerians have demonstrated nationwide a day for nearly fortnight against a police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), that rights groups had for years accused of extortion, harassment, torture and murders.

Authorities imposed the 24-hour curfew on Lagos on Tuesday after the state governor said the protests had turned violent.

On Wednesday, police had found out roadblocks within the city and weren’t allowing vehicles to pass, although there have been a couple of cars and other people walking, Reuters reported.

The SARS unit was disbanded on October 11 following the uproar, but the protests have persisted with demonstrators calling for enforcement reforms.

Source: aljazeera

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