Lagos comes to standstill in Nigerian anti-police brutality protests
More than 10,000 protesters flocked on to the streets of Nigeria’s capital city to join mounting anti-police brutality demonstrations. Demonstrators clogged roads, bringing the center of Lagos, which is the usually traffic-filled economic hub, to a standstill.
Many protesters brandished the green-and-white Nigerian flag as they filled a significant stretch of highway in the city of nearly 20 million people.
Great anger over abuses by the police’s notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars) erupted into widespread nationwide demonstrations last week, making the government get rid of the unit.
The crowds, nonetheless, have continued to grow in spite of the announcement of a string of reforms from the rattled authorities. A minimum of 10 people have died and many injured in the protests, which have been met with force by police units.
This recent wave of protests is the biggest display of people power in years in Africa’s most populous city as young people damask for more sweeping reforms. This past Friday evening, a large crowd gathered at a tollgate that has become the center of the protests in Lagos to hold a vigil for the protesters that were killed by police.
Demonstrators held their mobile phone torches aloft as they demanded accountability subsequent to decades of widespread mistreatment by law enforcement.
Nigeria’s authorities have set up a new special weapons and tactics (Swat) unit in place of Sars and promised to hold officers who have committed abuses accountable. But many remain skeptical that the government will follow through with genuine reform, after rights group stated that up to 10 people were killed in the initial harsh response to the protests.
The Nigerian army will start a two-month national exercise, it announced on Saturday, while denying the move was part of any security response to the protests.
Operation Crocodile Smile would run all across this African country from 20 October to 31 December, the first time the annual exercise, often concentrated in the Delta region, will be nationwide.
The move comes just days after the army announced that it was ready to step in and bring back order.
More than £100,000 has been raised to send food, water and first aid supplies to demonstrators, and to cover medical fees for those who have been injured.
Additionally, hundreds of lawyers have volunteered to represent those arrested. And public figures around the world have spoken out in support of the demonstrations.