69 people killed in Nigerian protests against police brutality

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Abuja: Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has said 69 people have been killed in protests against police brutality that have rocked the country.

The deaths were mainly civilians but include police officers and soldiers.

The president announced the toll in an emergency meeting with former Nigerian leaders aimed at finding ways to end the unrest, his spokesman told the BBC.

A group that has been key in organising the demonstrations has now urged people to stay at home.

The Feminist Coalition also advised people to follow any curfews in place in their states.

The protests have drastically subsided but an uneasy calm remains in several cities.

Officials said a curfew introduced in Lagos state would be eased.

The protests in Nigeria began on 7 October with mostly young people demanding the scrapping of a notorious police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars).

The unit was dissolved days later, but the protests continued, demanding broader reforms in the way Nigeria is governed.

They escalated after a shooting in the nation’s biggest city, Lagos, on Tuesday, when rights group Amnesty International says security forces killed at least 12 people. Nigeria’s army has denied any involvement.

At Friday’s virtual meeting, President Buhari, 77, said his administration was committed to meeting the demands of the protesters. But he said his government would not fold its arms and allow criminals who had hijacked the protests to continue to perpetrate “hooliganism”.

The president told the meeting that 51 civilians, 11 police officers and seven soldiers had been killed in the unrest, his spokesperson said. It was not immediately clear whether these figures included the protesters allegedly killed by security forces in Lagos Tuesday.

The president previously made a short televised address in which he urged protesters to stop demonstrating and instead engage with the government “in finding solutions”.

He faced criticism for not mentioning the Lagos shootings.

IANS

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