Human RightsNews

State-sanctioned Brutality, Terror Against Peaceful Protesters in Lagos

On October 20, soldiers in combat gear and armed with assault rifles invaded the Lekki tollgate where thousands of protesters have been demonstrating against police brutality.

Earlier in the day, the Lagos State Government declared a 24-hour curfew within its area of control.

However, protesters in Nigeria’s economic capital continued with their demands for an end to police brutality and justice and thus refused to leave the protest ground.

A witness told the BBC he counted about 20 bodies and at least 50 injured after soldiers rolled into Lekki in darkness and began firing.

Amnesty International said there was “credible but disturbing evidence” that protesters were fatally shot by security forces in the city.

In a tweet, Amnesty said, “While we continue to investigate the killings, Amnesty International wishes to remind the authorities that under international law, security forces may only resort to the use of lethal force when strictly unavoidable to protect against imminent threat of death or serious injury.”

The state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has visited some of the injured protesters.

In a statement, the governor said: “This is the toughest night of our lives as forces beyond our direct control have moved to make dark notes in our history, but we will face it and come out stronger.

“I have just concluded visits to hospitals with victims of this unfortunate shooting incident at Lekki,” Sanwoolu said.

The incident also drew international criticism of the Nigerian Government, former U.S. vice-president and presidential candidate Joe Biden, urged President Muhammadhu Buhari to end the violent crackdown on protesters.

“I urge President Buhari and the Nigerian military to cease the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria.

“The U.S. must stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption in their democracy, ” Biden said.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian army to stop killing young protesters.

Similar statements of solidarity were issued by celebrities such as Rihanna and Beyonce, who expressed support for the protesters.

Meanwhile, South African, Economic Freedom Fighters party EFF in a statement has called on the Nigerian Government to exercise restraint, particularly on the reign of terror by the army.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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