BY EMEKA EJERE
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expressed concern about the current unrest and attacks by hoodlums in Nigeria, especially in Lagos State.
Protests against police brutality had continued in major cities across Nigeria, with demands evolving beyond ending police excesses to calls for good governance across the board.
Vigils were held in major cities overnight, as regional strains emerged, with youth protesters in several northern Nigerian towns demanding urgent steps to end insecurity and an insurgency that has plagued the region for the past decade.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters in Lagos, the commercial center, and in Abuja, the capital, held candlelight processions to honour those killed since protests erupted on October 5 and for those who have died at the hands of the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), over the years..
But events took a turn hours after Governor Babajide Shanwo=Olu, imposed a 24-hour curfew across Lagos State, when suspected soldiers opened fire on defiant protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, killing and injuring yet to be identified numbers.
The reprisal attacks that followed the next day have grown bigger than the disturbances that prompted the curfew, with Lagos now experiencing a near state of anarchy.
According to the Fund, the development would worsen Nigeria’s economic outlook.
Director of the IMF’s African Department, Mr. Abebe Aemro Selassie, disclosed this while responding to a question, during a media briefing on the Africa Regional Economic Outlook at the virtual Annual Meetings of the IMF/World Bank in Washington, on Thursday.
He said that the ongoing protest in Lagos State, which contributes significantly to Nigeria’s overall growth was a concern, adding that the fund was hopeful that there will be a swift resolution.
He said: “Are we concerned? We are always concerned when we see protests, particularly ones that are difficult like the ones in Nigeria at the moment, but also anywhere in the world and we hope that there would be a satisfactory resolution there.
“Lagos is of course a very important economic hub and contributes quite a bit of economic activity to overall Nigeria’s activity.”