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Key EndSARS group suspends protest, tells people to obey curfew

Access Bank

A group that has been key in organising protests against police brutality that have gripped Nigeria in the last two weeks has urged people to stay at home.

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

President Muhammadu Buhari called for an end to the protests in a TV speech.

The streets of Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, the centre of the protests, remained quiet on Thursday night but there is an atmosphere of fear.

Lagos and other parts of Nigeria have seen buildings torched, shopping centres looted and prisons attacked since Tuesday night’s shooting of protesters in Lagos.

Rights group Amnesty International said security forces killed at least 12 people, although Nigeria’s army has denied its involvement.

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

Although President Buhari said it had been dissolved on 11 October, the protests have carried on, and broadened to include demands for broader reforms in the way Nigeria is governed.

What did President Buhari say in his speech?

On Thursday night President Buhari urged protesters to stop demonstrating and instead engage with the government “in finding solutions.”

He did not however mention the shooting of protesters in Lagos which has led to global condemnation and criticism.

His speech has been widely criticised on social media, the birthplace of the #EndSars movement.

For many it was tone deaf, in that it failed to substantially address some of the key demands of the protesters. But it also reinforced the disillusionment with the current government many young Nigerians have been feeling, correspondents say.

What did the Feminist Coalition say?

In a statement posted on Twitter the group – which has been using the hashtag #EndSars to rally protesters – said that it condemned “every form” of violence that had occurred, saying that young Nigerians “need to stay alive to pursue our dreams to build the future”.

“We are merchants of hope. Our priority is always the welfare and safety on the Nigerian youth,” it said.

It added: “Following the president’s address, we hereby encourage all young Nigerians to stay safe, stay home, and obey mandated curfew in your state.”

The group also said that it would no longer be receiving money but will use the $400,000 (£306,000) it has not yet spent, most of it donations from abroad, to fund hospitals bills, legal aid and relief for victims of police brutality.

Other groups and celebrities have also been influential in organising the protests – it is not clear if they will follow the move by the Feminist Coalition. (BBC/News Express)

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