Nigeria police to stop using force on protesters

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Nigeria police agreed to stop using force against protesters accusing them of brutality, the presidency said, a day after law enforcement officers shot at demonstrators in Lagos where an official said two people were killed.

Demonstrators are calling for law enforcement to halt use of force against them for a week and marches demanding the end of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad police unit (SARS) have been met with beatings, teargas and gunfire.

Protesters continue to call for a police overhaul despite President Muhammadu Buhari vowing “extensive police reforms”. On Sunday authorities said SARS would be disbanded, but authorities repeatedly made similar announcements in the past with little visible change, demonstrators say.

For years Nigerians accuse SARS of beating, killing and extorting money from them.

A presidency statement said Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission will set up a panel to investigate alleged human rights violations by SARS and other police units.

On Tuesday, protests spread to oil city Port Harcourt. Hundreds attended the march, defying an order by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike who said on Twitter demonstrations were “prohibited”.

Protests were staged in parts of Lagos on Tuesday, a day after police in the megacity used live ammunition against demonstrators. Lagos Police did not comment on whether officers fired live rounds, but said “unscrupulous elements” among protesters killed a bystander and a police officer.