ABUJA – Nigeria announced curfews Sunday in the states of Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Taraba and Plateau as protests against a newly formed special police force turned violent.

The Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) has reportedly already recruited members and will soon start training and undergo medical and psychological tests.

Kaduna State Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai told a local radio station that a 24-hour curfew had been declared to ban protests.

Udom Emmanuel, the governor of Akwa Ibom, also said a partial curfew was declared starting Monday between 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. local time (1900-0600 GMT).

The deputy governor of Taraba, Haruna Manu, said that amid peaceful protests, unidentified armed individuals raided state storehouses and looted goods that were to be distributed throughout the nation.

Manu said following the incident, the government announced a curfew in the state.

Three people were killed meanwhile in protests in Plateau, and Governor Simon Bako Lalong announced a 24-hour curfew in the state.

Protests spread across country

The mass demonstrations started two weeks ago when celebrities and activists called for protests in Lagos and the capital Abuja after a young man was killed by members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a controversial police unit, and spread across the country.

On Oct. 11, Nigeria’s police chief dissolved SARS following nationwide protests against police brutality.

Protesters had been demonstrating for several days against the unit and besieged its headquarters. 

They chanted “End SARS” and poured red paint on the street in front of the building – a symbolic reference to the alleged killings by SARS officers. 

Despite the dissolution of SARS, protesters are continuing to demonstrate until their demand for comprehensive police reforms is met, including punishments for erring officers, as well as the unconditional release of all detained protesters and compensation for families of the victims of police brutality. 

In an address to the nation on Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari said he heard the voice of the nation “clearly” and asked for an end to the protests.

The protesters have attacked police stations, set over 2,000 inmates free at two prison facilities and torched a leading television station. 

While soldiers are deployed in various parts of the country, curfews have now been announced in a total of 13 states including Lagos, Edo and Rivers.

Written by Sena Guler