Violent Protests Ongoing

Oct 22, 2020

As of the afternoon of 21 October 2020, violent protests are ongoing in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city — where a 24-hour curfew is currently in effect — and other major cities in the country. In Lagos, police officers fired shots into the air in several neighborhoods in an attempt to disperse the protesters and have taken control of the entrance to the upscale Lekki suburb — where protesters had briefly gathered earlier in the day. Military personnel used live ammunition, reportedly killing as many as 12 people amid protests in the Lekki toll gate area in the evening hours of 20 October. Approximately 25 others were wounded in the shooting. Several buildings in Lagos, including a television station and the headquarters of the Nigerian Ports Authority, were set on fire during the protests on 21 October.

Elsewhere in Nigeria, protests continue to occur in the capital Abuja, despite a ban on all demonstrations enacted in Abuja on 15 October. Authorities have erected barricades near government buildings in the capital in an effort to prevent protesters from gathering near the sites. In response to the increasing violence, local and state governments have implemented curfews and other security measures. Officials in Edo state extended a 24-hour curfew indefinitely. Additionally, 24-hour curfews are in effect in Ekiti, Ondo, Osun and Plateau states and in the cities of Aba and Umuahia in Abia state. In the aforementioned cities with curfew orders, only essential personnel, such as first responders, with valid identification are permitted to travel. Schools and universities are also closed in several states. The government has deployed military personnel to Abuja, Lagos and other cities in an effort to quell the protests. The inspector general of police also deployed riot police across the country to bolster security at correctional facilities after nearly 2,000 prisoners escaped from jails following attacks on two facilities. Additionally, the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos suspended routine services on 20-21 October due to the curfew.

The ongoing protests have caused significant transportation disruptions in major cities. In Lagos, several airlines canceled flights into and out of Murtala Muhammed International Airport (DNMM/LOS) due to the curfew. Protesters also blocked major thoroughfares, bridges and expressways in the country — including the Ketu-Ojota expressway and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in Lagos state, the Oye-Ekiti expressway in Ekiti state, and Airport Road in Abuja — disrupting vehicular traffic. Additionally, Lagos Bus Services Limited suspended operations, while Lagos’ Blue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) suspended operations on the Ikorodu to Tafawa Balewa Square corridor due to the protests. Demonstrations initially broke out on 7 October, with protesters calling for the government to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) due to reports of brutality perpetrated by the unit. Although the government officially disbanded the unit on 11 October, protests have intensified and are becoming increasingly violent. Demonstrators are now demanding the prosecution of SARS officers and retribution for the victims.

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