Prison set on fire in Nigeria despite government ordering lockdown of Lagos after security forces ‘murder’ at least 12 anti-police brutality protesters
- Police said assailants attacked the prison in Ikoyi on Thursday and set it alight
- It is the second day of unrest in Lagos after security forces killed 12 protesters
- President Buhari held an emergency security meeting amid 24-hour curfew
- Nigerians have been demanded the disbandment of violent SARS police force
- The rallies have spawned a broader call for reform and change in the country
Shots rang out and a prison was set ablaze as fresh unrest rocked Nigeria’s biggest city after a shooting of protesters that drew international outrage.
Gunfire was heard and smoke could be seen billowing from the detention facility in the upscale Ikoyi neighbourhood in central Lagos on Thursday.
Police said assailants had attacked the site on the second day of violence in the city of 20 million people after a deadly crackdown by security forces on demonstrators.
Soldiers patrolled the largely deserted streets of Lagos and the surrounding state on Thursday after the governor announced a round-the-clock curfew.
The wreckage of a dozen cars was still smouldering in Ikoyi after protesters torched vehicles, police stations and a TV station a night earlier.
Smoke billowed over a prison in Lagos’ Ikoyi neighbourhood on Thursday after police said the detention facility was attacked and set alight by assailants
Black plumes of smoke can be seen from the prison fire, which began under a 24-hour curfew in the city and surrounding state
At the same time, President Muhammadu Buhari held an urgent meeting with his security chiefs to try and bring the situation under control amid fears of widespread violence and disorder.
The army has already offered to deploy across the region to help quell the protests, which have been ongoing since October 8.
The demonstrations began by demanding and end to police brutality and for the notoriously violent Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS, to be disbanded.
Since then, rallies have expanded to include broader demands for change in the country that are growing loader despite promises of reform including the disbandment of SARS.
The streets of Lagos were largely deserted on Thursday amid a government-imposed lockdown which saw shops and schools shuttered and the majority of the city’s 20 million residents staying indoors
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (centre) meets with security advisers in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, following weeks of protests. Buhari has drawn even sharper criticism in recent days for so far choosing not to comment on the fatal shooting of at least 12 protesters by Nigerian security forces
A television station was set on fire on Wednesday as protesters raged following the shooting of 12 protesters the night before
Tensions came to a head on Tuesday when security forces launched a brutal crackdown on protesters that drew international condemnation.
At least 12 people were killed by the Nigerian army and police, according to Amnesty International.
President Buhari faces fierce criticism for so far choosing not to comment directly on the killings.
The Nigerian army meanwhile have dismissed reports that soldiers opened fire on protesters as ‘fake news.’
Police Minister Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi has said that troops were not ordered to open fire on protesters.
‘I cannot say who is involved in the shooting… definitely no the police,’ he told the BBC.
In contrast, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said his ‘heart goes out’ to the victims of the shooting and the policemen and others who have lost their lives in the days of unrest.
‘The pain of these terrible events is palpable in our towns and cities, and some losses are irreplaceable, but we can and will get justice for all of them,” a statement said.
Shocking pictures and videos from the attack were widely shared on social media, unleashing a wave of anger at the authorities.
Shocking photos and videos emerged from the shooting on Tuesday night showing injured protesters covered in blood
Injured people lie on mattresses at a hospital’s emergency room in Lagos after security forces allegedly opened fire on protesters in the city
Protesters run away on Wednesday as police officers use teargas to disperse people demonstrating against police brutality in Lagos after imposing a 24-hour curfew
The United States on Thursday condemned what it called excessive use of force by the Nigerian military, while the United States called for an investigation into the shooting.
‘We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces,’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
‘Those involved should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law,’ he added.
Nigerians have been calling for an end to the notoriously violent Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS [File photo]
The government has promised to disband SARS but protesters are now calling for more widespread change and reform in the country
At least 56 people have died across the country since the demonstrations began on October 8, with about 38 killed nationwide on Tuesday alone, according to Amnesty.
The African Union on Thursday strongly condemned the violence and called on all parties in Africa’s most populous nation to ‘privilege dialogue’.
The United Nations, European Union and United Kingdom have all called for those responsible for the killings to be held accountable.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said reports that lights were turned off and surveillance cameras removed at the scene before the attack suggested it was ‘premeditated, planned and coordinated’.
Protests have been held in South Africa, New York and London over the shooting, with a string of major celebrities – some of whom are of Nigerian descent themselves – throwing their weight behind the calls for justice.
Celebrities including model Naomi Campbell (left) and actor Idris Elba (left) have joined the chorus of stars throwing their weight behind the calls for justice
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