End Sars protests: People ‘shot dead’ in Lagos, Nigeria

21 Oct, 2020 - 12:10 0 Views
End Sars protests: People ‘shot dead’ in Lagos, Nigeria Protesters in Lagos built barricades, blocking roads in Nigeria's commercial hub

The Chronicle

A number of people taking part in a protest against police brutality have reportedly been shot dead or wounded in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos.

Witnesses quoted by local media said up to 12 people had been killed and others wounded after soldiers opened fire. Amnesty International said it had obtained credible reports of deaths.

The army denies the reports. Officials have promised an investigation.

An indefinite 24-hour curfew has been imposed on Lagos and other regions.

The BBC’s Nduka Orjinmo in Nigeria said a small group of protesters were defying the curfew on Wednesday and had gathered at the Lekki toll plaza in Lagos where the shooting took place.

Protests over a now-disbanded police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars), have been continuing for two weeks. The protesters are using the social media hashtag #EndSars to rally crowds.

Reacting to Tuesday’s shootings in the wealthy Lekki suburb, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and the army “to stop killing young #EndSARS protesters”.

Nigerian footballer Odion Jude Ighalo, who plays for Manchester United, accused the Nigerian government of killing its own citizens. “I’m ashamed of this government,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

What do we know about the shooting?

Eyewitnesses spoke of uniformed men opening fire at the Lekki toll gate on Tuesday evening.

Armed soldiers were seen barricading the protest site moments before the shooting, BBC Nigeria correspondent Mayeni Jones reports.

Social media footage streamed live from the scene shows protesters tending to the wounded.

An unnamed witness told BBC News that shortly before 19:00 local time soldiers “pulled up… and they started firing directly” at peaceful protesters.

“They were firing and they were advancing straight at us. It was chaos. Somebody got hit straight beside me and he died on the spot.

“It was pandemonium and they kept on shooting and shooting at us. It lasted for about an hour-and-a-half and the soldiers were actually taking up the dead bodies.”

He said the soldiers had built a barricade and ambulances could not reach the protest area.

Four witnesses told Reuters news agency soldiers had opened fire on demonstrators. One of them, Alfred Ononugbo, 55, said: “They started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd. I saw the bullet hit one or two persons.”

Authorities have only confirmed that some people were wounded in the shooting. The Premium Times newspaper quoted witnesses saying about 12 people had been killed.

In a tweet, Amnesty International Nigeria said it had “received credible but disturbing evidence of excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos”.

Amnesty International spokesman Isa Sanusi later said: “People were killed at the tollgate by security forces… we are working on verifying how many.”

How have the authorities reacted?

Gboyega Akosile, a spokesman for the Lagos state governor, tweeted: “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.”

He said the state authorities had ordered an “investigation into the incident”.

The army has not issued a statement on events in Lekki, but in several posts on Twitter it described media reports as “fake news”.

Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said 25 people had been wounded in what he described as an “unfortunate shooting incident”.

Releasing pictures of himself visiting the injured in hospital, he said on Twitter that “forces beyond our direct control have moved to make dark notes in our history”. – BBC

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