Nigeria’s anti-police protesters storm prison, free inmates

LAGOS, NIGERIA (AP) — Nigeria’s protests against police brutality turned violent on Monday when a crowd stormed a prison and freed inmates in Benin City in southern Nigeria.

Some prisoners jumped from a high fence of the institution while others were seen running away on the street, according to videos from the scene. Local media reports said as many as 200 prisoners may have escaped. Nigerian officials have not announced if there were casualties from the prison break.

Protesters also attacked police stations and police trucks in other parts of the country. For over two weeks Nigeria has been rocked by demonstrations by many young people protesting alleged police brutality.

The demonstrations began in response to a video that circulated online showing a man being beaten, apparently by members of the police Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS).

In response to the widespread demonstrations, the Nigerian government announced that it would disband the SARS unit, but the daily protests have continued with participants demanding an end to all police brutality and corruption.

Protesters during a demonstration in Lagos, Nigeria. PHOTO: AP

At first, the protests were peaceful, but then at least 10 people were killed, according to Amnesty International which accused the police of using unnecessary violence against the protesters. The protesters have become more belligerent, throwing rocks and other objects at police and other targets, as seen in the attacks on Monday.

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed has warned that the government will not fold its arms and allow the country to descend into anarchy. “We are no longer dealing with #EndSARS but a volatile situation that can lead to anarchy if government does not take some very firm steps to protect the lives and livelihood of innocent Nigerians,” he said on state television, NTA.