Police in Nigeria have reportedly opened fire on protesters in the capital of Lagos following demonstrations against police brutality
Two people are believed to have been hit by gunfire after over 20 police officers in Nigeria started firing at demonstrators in the capital city’s Lekki district on Tuesday, witnesses have reported.
Witnesses have said that smoke has been rising from the direction of a toll gate on Wednesday where the mass shootings at the hand of the police allegedly took place.
Video shown on Nigeria’s national Channels Television appeared to reveal the audio of live rounds being fired at the scene of the alleged shootings.
State officials have already put in place a 24-hour curfew on the 20 million people who live in the city of Lagos, which is Africa’s largest city, in an attempt to bring the protests against violence from the police to an end.
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But the protestors, who are particularly against a specific unit of the Nigerian police force known as SARS (the Special Anti-Robbery Squad), show little sign of slowing down following the reported shootings.
SARS was formed back in 1992 to tackle robbery, kidnappings and other violent crime in the country, but the unit has been widely criticised for several human rights abuses including torture and extortion, as well as extrajudicial killings.
Nigerians have claimed that plain clothes police officers within SARS frequently target young men who have tattoos, dreadlocks and expensive cars arbitrarily.
The Nigerian Army has posted still images on Twitter of news reports about the alleged shootings on Tuesday with the words “fake news” written across them in large red letters.
The human rights organisation, Amnesty International, said late on Tuesday that there is “credible but disturbing evidence” that the national security forces in Lagos have fatally shot police brutality protesters demonstrating against such violence.”
The organisation said in a tweet: “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 Lagos state commissioner for information, Gbenga Omotoso, said in a statement on Tuesday night that “there have been reports of shooting at the Lekki Toll Plaza following the 24-hour curfew imposed on Lagos”.
He added: “The state government has ordered an investigation into the incident.”
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Striker for Manchester United, Odion Ighalo, who is from Nigeria, has said that he is ashamed of Nigeria’s government following reports that soldiers had opened fire on protesters.
He said in a video message on Twitter:
“The Nigerian government, you guys are a shame to the world for killing your own citizens”
“Sending military to the streets to kill unarmed protesters because they are protesting for their own rights? It’s uncalled for.”
“You people will be remembered in history as the first government to send the military to the city to start killing their own citizens. I am ashamed of this government, we are tired of you guys and we can’t take this anymore.”
Ighalo called on the UK government, world leaders and the United Nations to step in.
He added: “They will keep killing if the world don’t talk about this.”