Nearly 2,000 inmates broke out of jail in Nigeria after crowds attacked two prisons amid protests against police brutality, the authorities said Tuesday.
Anti-riot police were deployed across Africa’s most populous nation and the police chief ordered forces to strengthen security around correctional facilities.
“The force will henceforth exercise the full powers of the law to prevent any further attempt on lives and property of citizens,” a police statement read, reports AP.
Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Manga said large, armed crowds had attacked two correctional facilities, subduing the guards on duty. At last count, 1,993 inmates were missing, he said.
“Most of the inmates held at the centers are convicted criminals serving terms for various criminal offenses, awaiting execution or standing trial for violent crimes,” he said in a statement.
The governor of Lagos state said a curfew would cover the entire city of some 14 million people and surrounding areas. The announcement came after a police station was burned down in the city and two people were shot dead by police.
“Lives and limbs have been lost as criminals and miscreants are now hiding under the umbrella of these protests to unleash mayhem on our state,” the governor said.
Authorities also had imposed a curfew in Benin City on Monday after the prisons were attacked.
The protests began two weeks ago after a video circulated showing a man being beaten, apparently by police officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS.
Protests continued Tuesday in many cities including the capital, where troops have been deployed.