The immediate past youth President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Engr. Daniel Kadzai, has raised concern about “escalating violence” against the #EndSars protest movement in Nigeria.
Armed thugs had attacked protesters across different States during peaceful demonstrations.
In some States, police has accused people “posing” as protesters of looting weapons, and torching police buildings, Kadzai who is the current National Coordinator, Peace Advocacy and Conflict Prevention said.
“Prisoners were also reported to have escaped from a jail in southern Nigeria Edo State”, he lamented.
Sky News Africa reports that the protests started about two weeks ago to demand an end to police brutality, with mainly young people using the social media hashtag #EndSars to rally people to demand the closure of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars).
The unit, formed during military rule in 1984, was accused of extortion, torture and murder.
The protests have also been backed by global celebrities such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, US rapper Kanye West, footballers Mesut Ozil and Marcus Rashford as well as Nigerian superstars Davido and Wizkid, our correspondent reports.
Government has agreed to disband the unit, but protests have since snowballed into calls for wider reforms with protesters now also using the hashtags #EndBadGovernance, #BetterNigeria and #FixNigeriaNow to build support on social media, Kadzai who also doubled as the National President Congress of Northern Nigeria Christians (CNNC), said repeatedly.
There was an increased military presence in the nation’s capital Abuja on Monday – a day after Defence Minister Bashir Magashi warned protesters against “breaching national security”, our correspondent reports.
In Lagos, the country’s commercial hub, protesters blocked access to the main international airport by barricading the road.
Kadzai said police brutality has continued, with a 17-year-old teenager, named only as Saifullah, dying in police custody in northern Kano State on Monday.
She had allegedly been tortured to death, prompting protests in Kano’s Kofar Mata area, Kadzai added.
Police however have not yet commented on the allegation.
In other developments, Kadzai said police fired tear gas at peaceful protesters in Abuja, while armed thugs had early on Monday morning attacked activists who had been occupying the central bank’s headquarters in the city.
Dozens of protesters were severely injured, the Peace Advocate and Conflict Prevention expert said.
It was the latest in a series of “escalating violence and coordinated attacks” against #EndSars protesters, he added.
The attacks have also led to casualties in recent days in the cities of Benin in the south, and Oshogbo in the middle-belt, he said.
“We again call on law enforcement agencies to investigate these incidents and protect the protesters from further attack by hoodlums,” the Ex CAN youth President added.