LAGOS, Nigeria —Many people were killed in a shootout by Nigerian soldiers at a major protest site in Lagos, eyewitnesses said, as the government sought to end a two-week march against police brutality, which sweeping nationwide Have joined the demonstrations.
Three witnesses gathered among hundreds of protesters at the Lekhi toll gate in Lagos, saying that after overnight the pickup truck arrived and the soldiers started showering tear gas and then bullets. It was not immediately clear how many people had been killed, but each of the witnesses said they saw several corpses on the road. The video posted on social media showed protesters shouting around blood-soaked corpses, which were visible through a haze of yellow tear-gas smoke.
Nigeria’s military sent questions about the killings to the civil police, who could not immediately be reached for comment. The national government of Nigeria also did not immediately reach for comment. The state government said it would investigate the shooting.
The decision to use military force to calm protests leads West Africa’s most populous country and the largest oil producing country into a period of uncertainty. Hours after the intervention came when the Governor of Lagos announced a curfew in Africa’s most populous city, stating that inflammatory protests against the vandalism of the police were “degenerated into a monster”, a clash between protesters and the government Demonstration set up.
Babjid Sanwo-Olu announced On my twitter feed The curfew will come into force at 4 pm local time on Tuesday and will affect all parts of the state, which is home to more than 20 people. “No one should be on the streets except the essential service providers and first responders” the governor said. “We will not see and allow chaos in our beloved state.”
In recent times tensions have increased in the oil-rich West African country as violence has erupted in several cities in the southern and central states. Armed groups – who say the protesters were government agitators, have accused a government and its allies of colliding with protesters, vandalizing property and, in southwestern Edo State, dozens of prisoners freed from jail breaks Was imposed, which affected the Governor of the state. Curfew imposed.
One of Lagos’s busiest intersections, the Lekki Toll Gate, has in recent times become an important rally site for peaceful demonstrations, with food stalls, canvas tents and a private security extension patrolling the perimeter. DJs and Afrobeats stars young protesters waving their cellphones behind a large plasma screen to sing protest songs, singing the slogan Soro Soke, or “Speak Louder”.
The intervention is followed by protests on Monday, where tens of thousands of protesters voluntarily came to a standstill with commercial capital, leading to the largest demonstration in a two-week campaign against police brutality. A police station in the city was set on fire on Tuesday morning, ordering the national police chief to deploy anti-riot police to prevent “escalating attacks including arson and malicious damage attacks”.
Lagos has emerged as the epicenter of a protest movement called # EndSARS – it began with demands to dissolve a police force called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, with calls for widespread complaints ranging from extortion, torture and unnatural He was charged with the murders. About corruption, poor governance and weak economy.
Hours before the curfew began, hundreds of protesters promised not to stop at the toll gate.
“It has become much more than police brutality. This is about our future, ”said 35-year-old driver Stephen Adedoza. “We have to make a stand before it’s too late.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, has said little about the protest movement that has evolved from a single-issue campaign to a more diffuse protest against alleged government corruption, economic mismanagement and nepotism. Mr Buhari agreed to abolish SARS in a written statement last week, but has since remained silent. Several cabinet ministers and military officials have warned in recent days that the protests had turned political and were heading towards “anarchy”.
A former general, who ruled Nigeria at the head of a military junta in the 1980s before returning as elected civilian president in 2015, Mr. Buhari called the military against other protests in recent years in 2018. Deployed, in which the government has included 45 Shias, Muslims marching in support of the jailed cleric. He urged the protesters to give the government time to address their concerns.
Some analysts supporting the protest said the Lagos report was reminiscent of a military dictatorship. The Nigerian government can go to prevent Nigerians from exercising their rights. This is a blight on the Constitution and democracy, ”said Bulma Bukarti, a human rights lawyer who represented the families of SARS victims.
Inside the protest movement, fractures have appeared between those who want to focus on police brutality and those who want a more fundamental change.
In the hours before the accident, hundreds of #EndSARS supporters on social media urged protesters to withdraw from the streets to continue the online protest. “We’ve lost enough people,” one said. Amnesty International said on Monday that at least 15 people have died since the protests began.
Oldoughton Collins-Ibusuwa, 49, was at the toll gate when he heard that automatic gunfire started and began to run among the crowd of protesters.
“It was chaos. Everyone was running, but then some tried to go back, ”said the businessman, who has been protesting for days. “But we will continue. These people have been cheating on us for so long. ”
Write Joe Parkinson at [email protected]
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