Authorities in Edo State have declared a 24-hour curfew for an indefinite period of time effective from 16:00 (local time) on Monday, October 19. The decision comes following incidents of vandalism and violence in Benin City and other areas of the state, including the escape of an unknown number of prisoners from a detention facility. Media sources reported that the jailbreak occurred at the Nigeria Correctional Service Facility along Sapele Road in Benin City. Local authorities reported on social media that police facilities including Ugbekun Police Station, Oba Market Police station, and Idogbo Police Post, had been attacked by groups posing as #ENDSARS protesters in Benin City. The attackers reportedly stole firearms and ammunition from the armory and freed suspects in custody, prior to setting the buildings alight. The curfew will remain in place until the security situation improves. All businesses and schools have been ordered to close under the curfew measures.
Demonstrations against alleged police brutality and reforms in the sector, dubbed the #ENDSARS protests, continued on Monday across a number of cities including Lagos and Abuja. The demonstrations have continued despite authorities agreeing to disband the controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police unit. There have been reports of riots, violence, and vandalism breaking out in different locations across the country and authorities have blamed rioters in the guise of #ENDSARS protesters causing the unrest.
Additional security forces will be deployed to Benin City and across Edo state. Demonstrators may continue to protest the newly imposed curfew in Edo state, and clashes between security forces and protesters are likely. A heightened security presence should also be expected in urban centers across the country as demonstrations continue elsewhere. Associated disruptions and further clashes and unrest should be anticipated.
A series of protests organized by the #ENDSARS social media campaign have been held across Nigeria over the past few months and have intensified in recent days, with demonstrations having led to several fatal clashes between protesters and security forces. Unrest has continued despite an announcement by President Muhammadu Buhari that SARS would be disbanded and replaced by a new agency called SWAT, a move which protesters have rejected.
Those in Nigeria are advised to monitor the situation, avoid the vicinity of any demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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