Protests Ongoing

Oct 21, 2020

As of 20 October 2020, widespread protests demanding an end to alleged police brutality are ongoing across Nigeria. In response to violence during the protests, the governor of Lagos state — where the Lagos metropolitan area is located — declared a statewide 24-hour curfew beginning at 1600 local time (1500 UTC) on 20 October. According to the governor, only essential workers are exempt from the curfew. Additionally, a 24-hour curfew was enacted in Edo state — for which Benin City is the capital — on 19 October. Movement restrictions are already in place in the capital Abuja, where Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) authorities banned all demonstrations as of 15 October and erected barricades near government buildings in an effort to prevent protesters from congregating.

Violence escalated during large-scale demonstrations on 19 October. In Abuja, police officers used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protesters who had gathered on the Mararaba-Abuja Highway. Security forces also fired tear gas at protesters within the premises of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission Headquarters, located in the Asokoro district. Unidentified assailants reportedly set fire to more than 200 vehicles belonging to protesters in Abuja. At least one protester was reportedly killed by a vigilante who infiltrated the demonstration. In Lagos, protesters gathered outside Murtala Muhammed International Airport (DNMM/LOS), but there were no disruptions to airport operations. Protesters also blocked major roads and thoroughfares connecting cities in the country, including the Ketu-Ojota expressway and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in Lagos state, the Oye-Ekiti expressway — a key highway that connects the Ekiti state to Kogi and Abuja — and Airport Road in Abuja.

There continue to be reports of vigilantes — allegedly plainclothes security personnel — causing disturbances during demonstrations. Protests are generally peaceful until these individuals interfere, occasionally clashing with protesters or prompting the use of force by police officers to disperse demonstrations. Some protest organizers accuse the government of recruiting the so-called “hoodlums” who infiltrate the protest gatherings, but the government denies such allegations and condemns their actions. Clashes have also occurred between protesters and counterprotesters — who support the government and the SARS.

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