Abuja, Oct 21 (efe-epa).- Nigerian security forces killed a dozen people when they opened fired on protesters demanding an end to police violence, Amnesty International said Wednesday.
“An on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty International has confirmed that the Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 peaceful protesters yesterday at two locations in Lagos,” the human rights organization said in a statement.
The protests were part of the movement that arose in opposition to the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), accused of arbitrary arrests, assaults and murders.
Though SARS was dissolved by President Muhammadu Buhari on Oct. 11, people have remained in the streets to express unhappiness with corruption, rising crime and high unemployment, among other ills.
Authorities in Lagos State imposed a 24-hour curfew, ostensibly “to stop criminals who hid under the #EndSARS protests to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens,” but the measure did not dissuade demonstrators from gathering Tuesday night in the Lekki and Alausa districts of Lagos city, which is home to some 21 million people.
Witnesses told AI that soldiers appeared in Lekki around 6:45 pm “and opened fire on #EndSARS protesters without warning.”
Less than two hours later, troops and cops from the Rapid Response Squad carried out a similar assault on demonstrators in Alausa, according to the statement.
“Opening fire on peaceful protesters is a blatant violation of people’s rights to life, dignity, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Soldiers clearly had one intention – to kill without consequences,” Osai Ojigho, Country Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said.
AI also cited reports that prior to the shooting, officials removed CCTV cameras from Lekki Toll Plaza, site of an #EndSARS protest encampment, and cut electricity to the area in “a clear attempt to hide evidence.”
The #EndSARS movement has drawn global attention. International personalities ranging from rapper Kanye West to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey have posted messages of support.
Manchester United’s Odion Ighalo is one of several Nigerian soccer players to condemn the repression in their homeland.
“The government are killing their own citizens,” he said in a video posted on Twitter late Tuesday.
AI said that at least 56 people have been killed across Nigeria since the protests began on Oct. 8. EFE po-pms/dr