Nigerian soldiers Monday morning took over key locations in Abuja to prevent the EndSARS protesters from converging.
This comes after President Muhammadu Buhari had reportedly rejected proposals by the military hierarchy to use soldiers in quelling the protests. Information minister Lai Mohammed had also said the demonstrations had to be crushed to avoid anarchy.
The protests broke out about two weeks ago to demand an end to high-handedness and brutality of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian police.
SARS, as the unit is popularly known, has been accused of crimes including extrajudicial killing, kidnapping and extortion.
Thousands of young Nigerians have taken to the streets in major cities including Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Ibadan, to press home their demands.
The Nigerian Army said last week that it was loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari and the country, and that it would defend the country’s democracy.
It issued a stern warning to people it termed “subversive elements”. Many critics believed the army’s statement was targeted at #EndSARS protesters.
“As a responsible and law abiding organisation, the NA reaffirms its unalloyed loyalty and commitment to the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari and the constitution of the country,” Col Sagir Musa, Acting Director, Army Public Relations, said in a statement.
The military had said it was not interfering with any of the protests.