The Nigerian Army Shot Dead at Least 12 Peaceful Protesters in Lagos, Rights Group Says. Here’s What to Know

An on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty Worldwide has confirmed that the Nigerian military and police killed at the very least 12 peaceable protesters on Oct. 20 at two places in Lagos. The rights group says the killings passed off at Alausa and Lekki, each suburbs of Lagos. On Tuesday night, reviews and movies on social media appeared to indicate the Nigerian military opening hearth on unarmed peaceable #endSARS protesters on the Lekki toll gate in Lagos after reportedly turning off the road lights and reducing cellphone networks.

What’s #endSARS?

Nationwide protests in opposition to police brutality started on Oct. 8, after a video emerged in early October exhibiting cops considered from the infamous Particular Anti-Theft Squad, or (SARS allegedly capturing and killing a younger man in Nigeria’s southern Delta State. Though Nigerian authorities denied the reviews, protests erupted throughout the nation calling to disband the unit and #endSARS. Although they’re leaderless, the demonstrations are principally pushed by younger individuals who say they’ve been unfairly profiled by SARS.

The #endSARS hashtag dates again to at the very least 2017, when it was used to share experiences of assault and violence. SARS was shaped in 1984 to fight a rise in armed theft and crime however has been extensively accused of illegal arrests and different abuses. Amnesty Worldwide reported at the very least 82 instances of torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial execution between January 2017 and Might 2020. Regardless of guarantees of reform, Amnesty says SARS officers nonetheless act with impunity.

Sophie Bouillon—AFP/Getty PicturesA basic view of a constructing on hearth close to the Lekki-Ikoyi Toll Gate in Lagos on Oct. 21, 2020, after a lethal capturing of peaceable protesters in Lagos that Amnesty Worldwide blamed on safety forces.

What occurred in Lekki and Alausa on Oct. 20?

A number of movies circulating on social media confirmed crowds gathering on the Lekki toll gate in one of many suburbs of Lagos, the place #endSARS protesters have been camped for 2 weeks. Witnesses informed the BBC that uniformed males opened hearth, and troopers have been seen barricading the protest web site earlier than the capturing, and Amnesty Worldwide obtained reviews that shortly earlier than the shootings, CCTV cameras on the Lekki toll gate have been eliminated by authorities officers and the electrical energy was lower in an try to cover proof. Video footage confirmed protesters singing the nationwide anthem within the darkness, the noise gunfire as individuals ran away from the scene, and protesters tending to the injured on the scene. Based on Amnesty Worldwide, at the very least 56 individuals have died throughout the nation for the reason that protests started, with about 38 killed on Tuesday alone.

Eyewitnesses at a separate protest web site in Alausa informed Amnesty Worldwide that they have been attacked by a staff of troopers and policemen from the Speedy Response Squad (RRS) Unit at about Eight p.m., leaving at the very least two individuals lifeless and one critically injured.

How has the Nigerian authorities responded?

On Oct. 11, the federal government introduced the disbanding of SARS. That is the fourth time there was an announcement of both the disbanding or reform of the pressure, however activists say the transfer doesn’t go far sufficient. Protesters have 5 core calls for, together with justice for the households of victims of police brutality, retraining of SARS officers earlier than they’re redeployed to different police items, and an unbiased physique to supervise investigations into police brutality. Protesters have additionally expanded their goals past police brutality to harness frustration at years of corruption and dangerous governance.

On Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari’s workplace issued a press release calling on individuals to have endurance as police reforms “collect tempo,” however didn’t point out the shootings from the night time earlier than. The Nigerian navy has not issued a press release about occasions in Lekki, however posted screenshots to Twitter calling a number of credible information reviews about it “faux information.” The federal government is now extending curfews past Lagos, which was already below restrictions, to different cities throughout Nigeria. In a televised briefing Wednesday, Lagos governor Obaijide Sanwo-Olu stated he has ordered an investigation into the navy’s actions at Lekki. Sanwo-Olu confirmed greater than 20 accidents, however stated that nobody had been killed.

How has the world reacted?

The protests, organized through social media, have received the help of celebrities overseas together with Nigerian Afrobeat star Wizkid and British-Nigerian actor John Boyega. Beyoncé and Rihanna additionally shared messages of solidarity with Nigerian protesters through Twitter following the occasions at Lekki.

On Tuesday following the occasions at Lekki, U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden urged Nigerian authorities to stop the “violent crackdown on protesters” and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted calling on Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari to “cease killing younger #EndSARS protesters.” Solidarity protests are going down in London and outdoors the Nigerian embassies in Pretoria, South Africa and Nairobi, Kenya on Wednesday.

Greater than 180,000 individuals have signed a petition calling for the U.Okay. authorities to implement sanctions in opposition to the Nigerian authorities and officers. Through a spokesperson, the U.N. Secretary-Common condemned Wednesday “the violent escalation” in Lagos and referred to as on Nigerian authorities to “examine these incidents and maintain the perpetrators accountable.” On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a press release condemning the usage of extreme pressure by the Nigerian navy in Lagos and that U.S. welcomes an instantaneous investigation.

What is occurring in Nigeria now?

Unrest throughout Nigeria continued via Wednesday and Thursday. Native media reported that two tv stations in Lagos have been burned and destroyed, video footage confirmed the stays of a raided a mall in Lekki, and the BBC reviews that the excessive court docket in Lagos island was set ablaze.

The corporate that manages the Lekki toll gate, disputed Amnesty’s eyewitness accounts that cameras have been faraway from the realm on Tuesday night time earlier than the shootings. Curfews have been imposed in Lagos state and throughout different components of the nation, together with Delta state the place protests started in early October. Lagos governor Sanwo-Olu stated Thursday that the Nigerian navy has provided to deploy forces if wanted to guard companies and authorities websites amid the unrest.


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