Huge crowds help swell Nigeria police brutality protest

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Nigerians flocked on to the streets of the biggest city Lagos on Saturday to join mounting protests against police brutality.

More than 10 000 demonstrators clogged roads, bringing the centre of the usually traffic-filled economic hub to a standstill.

Many protesters brandished the green-and-white Nigerian flag as they filled a major stretch of highway in the megacity of 20 million people.

READ | Nigeria's bus drivers battle thugs, a union and police in Lagos

Anger over abuses by the police's notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) erupted into widespread demonstrations last week, forcing the government to scrap the unit.

An aerial view shows protesters gathering at the L
An aerial view shows protesters gathering at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos.
Protesters gesture as they hold placards at a live
Protesters gesture as they hold placards at a live concert at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos.

The crowds have continued to grow despite the announcement of a string of reforms from the rattled authorities.

The wave of protests is the biggest display of people power in years in Africa's most populous nation as young people demand more sweeping changes.

On Friday evening, a mammoth crowd gathered at a toll gate that has become the epicentre of the protests in Lagos to hold a vigil for those killed by police.

Demonstrators held their mobile phone torches aloft as they called for accountability after decades of widespread mistreatment by law enforcement.

Nigeria's authorities have set up a new SWAT unit to replace SARS and pledged to hold officers who have committed abuses accountable.

But many are sceptical that the government will follow through with genuine change, after rights group said that up to 10 people were killed in the initial harsh response to the protests.

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