Protesters ‘shot dead’ at anti-police brutality demonstration in Lagos
Abuja, Oct 20 (efe-epa).- Nigerian security forces have reportedly opened fire on a protest against police brutality in the country’s largest city of Lagos on Tuesday, killing and injuring a number of people.
Amnesty International said in a statement that it had “received credible but disturbing evidence of excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters at Lekki toll gate.” It added that it was investigating “the killings.”
“People were killed at the tollgate by security forces… we are working on verifying how many,” spokesman Isa Sanusi later said, according to various media.
Local news outlet The Punch quoted an eyewitness saying that at least seven protesters had died after being shot at the tollgate. It added that soldiers had shot sporadically at protesters during a blackout.
A 24-hour curfew has been imposed amid the ongoing protests, which began about two weeks ago in opposition to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), accused of arbitrary arrests, assaults and murders.
Although SARS was dissolved by President Muhammadu Buhari on Oct. 11, protesters continue to call for reform.
Videos posted to social media Tuesday night showed graphic scenes of bloody protesters with what users reported to be gunshot wounds.
“There have been reports of shooting at the Lekki Toll Plaza, following the 24-hour curfew imposed on Lagos State to stop criminals who hid under the #EndSARS protests to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens,” state commissioner for information and strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said in a statement posted on Twitter.
He added that the state government has ordered an investigation into the incident.
In total, up to 49 people, including in Lekki, had been killed in various incidents across the country, The Punch reported, calling it “Black Tuesday.”
Former United States secretary of state Hillary Clinton called on Buhari and the Nigerian Army through Twitter to “stop killing young #EndSARS protesters.”
The army on Twitter posted multiple screenshots of news reports of soldiers opening fire in Lekki, stamped with red FAKE NEWS labels.
Last Wednesday in a statement, the army warned “all subversive elements and trouble makers to desist” and said it “remains highly committed to defend the country and her democracy at all cost.”
Nigerian soccer player for Manchester United, Odion Jude Ighalo, said in a video Tuesday night that he is “ashamed of this government.”
“The government are killing their own citizens,” he added in the footage posted on Twitter.
Meanwhile, almost 2,000 prisoners are estimated to have been freed in attacks against prisons during protests in the state of Edo.
“Two NCoS custodial centres in Benin City and Oko in Edo State were attacked yesterday (Monday) by protesters purportedly under the #ENDSARS aegis, freeing (at the last count) 1,993 inmates in legal custody and looting the centres, including the weapons in their armoury,” detailed Mohammed Manga, spokesman for the Nigerian interior ministry, in a statement carried by The Punch.
A few hours later, Edo Governor Godwin Obaseki said that there was still no definitive number of escapees counted.
The hashtag #EndSARS has become a massive social media movement that has drawn global attention.
International personalities ranging from rapper Kanye West to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey have sent messages of support. EFE-EPA