The nationwide protests against police brutality (#EndSARS) have become violent as protesters scaled up their campaigns and blocked critical road arteries in Lagos, Abuja and many state capitals on Tuesday.Following this development, the Lagos State Government has declared a 24-hour curfew across the state.
The Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said through his official Twitter handle that the decision to declare the curfew followed the violence which has broken out in some parts of the state following activities of criminals hiding under
the guise of #EndSARS protesters.
“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. 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.
“As a government that is alive to its responsibility and has shown a commitment to the movement #ENDSARS, we will not watch and allow anarchy in our dear state.
“I, therefore, hereby impose a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the State as from 4:00 pm today, October, 20, 2020. Nobody, except essential service providers and first responders, must be found on the streets,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The protesters had on Monday grounded commercial activities in Lagos as they blocked major road outlets, hindering the movements of human and vehicular traffic.
The protesters, who had been on the streets for about 11 days to protest against police brutality, demanded the full implementation of their requests, including police reforms and prosecution of police officers and men indicted for human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings.
Following the protests and the infiltration of the groups by some hoodlums to perpetuate violence, the Lagos State governor announced the closure of public and private schools in the state, warning parents and guardians not to allow their children and wards to be used as tools by those who may want to hijack the protests and cause mayhem.
The governor also appealed to the protesters to leave the roads and embrace dialogue for the resolution of their agitations since the State Government had shown sincerity and willingness to address all concerns raised by them, including the constitution of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and setting up of compensation funds for the victims.
Speaking during the swearing-in of members of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution in Lagos on Monday, Sanwo-Olu reiterated his solidarity with the protesters’ demands, saying that the pain expressed and concerns raised were genuine and legitimate.
He urged the protesters to be part of the process of implementing the reforms they clamoured for in the police and stated that continuous blocking of roads,
Government, and private offices would slow down the procedure of implementing their demands.
“We have shown an unprecedented commitment to the complete overhaul of the Nigerian Police. The inauguration of this Judicial Panel of Inquiry is only the first step in a long line of reformative actions that will lead to a thorough revamp and reorientation of the Nigeria Police. I believe that some of the actions we have taken should, to a large extent, show our sincerity and willingness to address all your concerns.
“Let me reiterate that I am on the side of the young people out there. I understand your pain and I know your concerns are genuine and legitimate. While we are able to immediately acquiesce to some of your demands, some others will require time. We ask you to bear with us as we dutifully work on your demands.
“I will, therefore, like to renew my appeal to you to suspend the protests and create an atmosphere for the resolution of all pending demands. I encourage everyone brutalised by the disbanded SARS, including the families of those who died, to present their case before this tribunal,” local media reports quoted the governor as saying.
He assured the youths that he was convinced that outcome and recommendations of the judicial panel would open a new chapter in the police-citizen relationship.
The governor promised that the State Government would ensure that all wounds are healed, justice served to victims of abuse, and guilty police officers prosecuted.
In Benin, the Edo State capital, thugs, who infiltrated the protesters, attacked two prisons and allegedly freed about 120 inmates.
In addition, the hoodlums attacked three police stations in the state, sacked all the personnel attached to them, set detained suspects free and carted away arms and ammunition. The incidents prompted the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, to impose a 24-hour curfew in the state until further notice.
In Abuja, the police had to fire teargas to disperse protesters as they blocked three of Abuja’s most strategic highways: the Kubwa- Zuba Expressway, the Abuja International Airport Road and the Abuja-Keffi.
Some of the protesters were intercepted by the security agents at the John Kennedy Street as they attempt to march through the back gate of the Presidential villa.
According to local media reports, some soldiers mounted checkpoints along the Mararaba/Nyanya road linking Nasarawa State to Abuja and that some passengers were forced to trek as some commercial vehicles stayed off the roads for fear of being stuck in traffic.
There were reported cases of clashes between the anti-SARS protesters and the allegedly sponsored group, which is pro-SARS in Abuja, leading to a number of deaths and setting of fire on several cars in the Car Garage in Apo area of Abuja.