Nigeria's president tells security to respect the law as gunfire heard in Lagos after protest crackdown

Reuters
ABUJA/LAGOS Published: Oct 22, 2020, 11:17 PM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Violence in Lagos, Africa`s biggest city, has escalated since Wednesday as groups of young men and armed police clashed in some neighbourhoods following a shooting on Tuesday night in Lekki district.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has told security forces to act lawfully, the national security adviser said on Thursday, as authorities in Lagos struggled to enforce a curfew imposed to contain anger over a crackdown on anti-police protesters.

Gunshots rang out and smoke rose from at least two fires in the commercial capital`s affluent Ikoyi neighbourhood on Thursday, witnesses said. A fire broke out in the district`s prison, the state government said. Video footage showed a blaze in a shopping mall in another part of Lagos.

Violence in Lagos, Africa`s biggest city, has escalated since Wednesday as groups of young men and armed police clashed in some neighbourhoods following a shooting on Tuesday night in Lekki district.

Rights group Amnesty International said soldiers and police killed at least 12 protesters in Lekki and Alausa, another Lagos district. The army has denied soldiers were at the site of the shooting, where people had gathered in defiance of the curfew.

Buhari will address the country in a broadcast on Thursday evening.

National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno, speaking to reporters in the capital Abuja after a meeting with Buhari, said the president had directed all security agencies to operate within "the confines of legality" and "not to do anything that will aggravate the situation".

"Mr. President is very concerned about this development and does not want a situation in which everything breaks down and results in anarchy, in lawlessness and people taking the law into their own hands," Monguno said.

Monguno said Buhari was expected to "come up with certain solutions" in the coming hours.

In addition to flashpoints in Lagos - where witnesses have reported seeing young men, some armed with machetes, walking in parts of Lagos - a number of southern states have imposed curfews to restore order.

The unrest has become a political crisis for Buhari, a former military leader who came to power at the ballot box in 2015 and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Some protesters have said they feared a return to the dark days of military rule.

A Lagos state spokesman said the fire at Ikoyi prison was under control and armed officers were at the scene. He did not say how it started or comment on the reports of gunfire.

Video footage posted online and on local media showed a fire at the Circle shopping mall on the Lekki-Epe Expressway.

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