Nigeria's nationwide police protests spread to southern oil hub

YENAGOA, Nigeria Oct 13 (Reuters) - Nigerian protests seeking an end to alleged police brutality were held nationwide on Tuesday, spreading to southern oil city Port Harcourt a day after police opened live fire on protesters in Lagos where an official said two people were killed.

Protesters have over the last week called for an overhaul of policing to end misconduct. The calls have continued despite President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday vowing “extensive police reforms”. On Sunday authorities said the Special Anti-Robbery Squad police unit, known as SARS, would be disbanded.

The unit was the target of demonstrators who accuse it of beating up and killing Nigerians, and extorting money from them.

Hundreds attended a protest march on Tuesday in the southern oil city of Port Harcourt, defying an order by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike who said on Twitter that such demonstrations were “prohibited”.

The governor’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment after demonstrators took the streets.

Protests were also staged in parts of Lagos on Tuesday, a day after police in the megacity opened fire with live ammunition against demonstrators. Lagos Police did not comment on whether officers fired live rounds, but said “unscrupulous elements” among protesters had killed a bystander and a police officer.

Demonstrations were also held in the capital, Abuja, the southeastern state of Enugu and Oyo state in the southwest.

Cheta Nwanze of SBM Intelligence, a Lagos-based risk advisory firm, said the protest were continuing because people felt the disbanding of SARS was “cosmetic” as similar announcements had been made in the past. He said protesters want “real change”. (Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Additional reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram and Libby George in Lagos; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram, Editing by William Maclean)