Nigeria imposes 24-hour curfew in Lagos to stem anti-police protests

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Authorities have declared a 24-hour curfew in Nigeria's economic hub Lagos after violence erupted during worsening anti-police protests.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos state governor, announced only essential service providers and first responders would be allowed on the streets from 4pm local time.

"I have watched with shock how what began as a peaceful #EndSARS protest has degenerated into a monster that is threatening the well-being of our society," he wrote on Twitter.

Protests that began 12 days ago over abuses by the police's Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) have mushroomed across the country.

Deaths

Eighteen people are reported to have died in the demonstrations following clashes between protesters and people dressed in civilian clothes.

Lagos, a city of 20 million people, has been paralysed during the protests in which key roads as well as access to the international airport have been blocked.

In the capital Abuja, crowds were dispersed by security forces on Tuesday. Tensions were high after three people died during scuffles in the city on Monday.

"The command has launched an investigation into the matter and normalcy has been restored to the area," said police spokesperson Mariam Yusuf.

Police unit

The government announced the scrapping of the SARS and a raft of reforms to the police in an effort to placate the protesters.

But many of the demonstrators are sceptical of the promises and their demands have grown to include more sweeping changes.

Officials have called for protesters to suspend the demonstrations to give the government time to carry out the changes.