For two weeks Nigeria has been shaken by demonstrations against police violence, which have turned into an unprecedented protest against the regime and bad governance, whose repression has left at least twenty deaths.
– Viral video –
On October 3, a video posted on social media shows suspected police officers from the Special Theft Suppression Brigade (SARS), a controversial police unit, shooting a man in Ughelli, southern Delta state.
The video goes viral, prompting the testimony of thousands of Internet users about police violence.
In a few days, the hashtag #EndSARS (end the SARS), accused of racketeering the population, illegal arrests, torture and even murder, becomes one of the most shared in the world on Twitter, thanks to the support from Nigerian music stars like Davido and Wizkid.
– Manifestations –
On October 8, demonstrations were quickly dispersed by the police in several cities. In Ughelli, violence causes two deaths.
On the 9th, hundreds of people demonstrate in several large cities against police violence and the hashtag #EndSARS becomes the most shared “trend” in the world for an afternoon on Twitter.
On the 10th, a demonstrator was shot dead by the police in Ogbomoso (south-west).
– SARS dissolved –
On the 11th, the demonstrators are more and more numerous in the country, while several rallies are organized by the diaspora, especially in London.
In the evening, President Muhammadu Buhari announces the dissolution of the SARS, after a week of strong youth mobilization.
The government promises a reform of the police force, announces the creation of the SWAT, a new brigade which it wants “ethical”, and assures that the agents accused of violence will be prosecuted. The arrested demonstrators are released.
– The mobilization is intensifying –
But these announcements do not calm the demonstrators, always more numerous. On the 12th, thousands of people demonstrated in several major cities, demanding structural reform of the police and an increase in police salaries to fight corruption.
Some are broadening their demands, demanding more freedom and social progress in this country which has the largest number of people living in extreme poverty in the world and massive youth unemployment.
Protests degenerate in Surulere, a middle-class neighborhood, and a protester and a police officer are killed, according to the Lagos state government.
– Axes blocked, army warning –
On the 13th, thousands of young people demonstrated in several cities, blocking in particular the two main axes of Lagos, the economic capital.
On the 15th, despite a warning from the army saying it was ready to “enforce law and order” and new incidents, thousands of people walk, sing and dance in different areas of Lagos.
On the 19th, Lagos international airport and most of the main roads were blocked, causing huge traffic jams. Schools are closed.
Amnesty International estimates at least 15 the number of dead since the start of the protest, including two police officers.
In Abuja, the federal capital, the police fired tear gas against the demonstrators. Clashes broke out, killing three and several cars were set on fire, police said.
As in Abuja, demonstrators are attacked in Benin City, capital of the state of Edo (South), by armed young people, accused of being paid by local politicians. Three police stations are stormed in Benin City and several prisoners escape from detention centers. Governor of Edo announces a curfew.
– Curfew in Lagos, protesters killed –
On the 20th, the demonstrations degenerated with violent incidents in Lagos and Abuja. A curfew is established in Lagos from 4 p.m., riot control forces are deployed across the country.
In the evening, more than 1,000 demonstrators gathered peacefully on a toll in Lagos are dispersed by live ammunition, after the entry into force of the curfew, leaving at least 25 wounded according to the governor of the state and several deaths of ‘after Amnesty.
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