Authorities declared a 24-hour curfew in Nigeria’s economic hub of Lagos on Tuesday as violence erupted in widespread protests that have shaken cities across the country.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced only “important service providers and first responders” would have permission on the street from 1 p.m. 16.00 (1500GMT).
“I have seen with shock how what began as a peaceful #EndSARS protest has degenerated into a monster that threatens the well-being of our society,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Lives and limbs have been lost as criminals and criminals now hide under the umbrella of these protests to unleash chaos on our state.”
“We will not see and allow anarchy in our dear state.”
I therefore hereby impose a curfew around the clock on all parts of the state from kl. 16 today, October 20, 2020. No one except major service providers and first responders should be found on the street.
– Babajide Sanwo-Olu (@jidesanwoolu) October 20, 2020
Protests that began 12 days ago over the abuse of the police-fired Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have increased dramatically.
About 18 people have died in the demonstrations, as clashes between protesters and attackers dressed in civilian clothes have been reported.
Lagos, a city of 20 million, has been paralyzed as crowds have blocked important roads and access to the international airport.
Witnesses told AFP that a police station was burned in the Orile Iganmu district of the city on Tuesday.
In the capital Abuja, the crowds were dispersed violently by security forces on 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 case and normalcy has been restored in the area,” police spokesman Mariam Yusuf said.
“However, about three people were reported dead and some cars were damaged.”
The government has announced the dismantling of SARS and a series of reforms to the police in an attempt to locate the protesters.
But many of the young protesters are skeptical of the official promises, and their demands have grown to include more far-reaching changes in Africa’s most populous nation.
Officials have called on protesters to suspend the demonstrations to give the government time to fulfill its promises.