Nigeria: Protests against police brutality in Lagos turned bloody on Tuesday despite a state-wide curfew, as soldiers opened fire on Nigerians protesting against police brutality in the Lekki district of the capital Lagos shooting at least two people.
Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa, has been shaken for two weeks by unrest, as youth-led groups have hit the streets to protest police brutality and the lack of jobs.
Thousands of Nigerians have demonstrated nationwide for nearly two weeks against a police unit known as, (SARS) the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, accused of kidnapping, harassment, and extortion, torture, and murders.
#EndSARS. The rallies began on October 5 in Edo and Delta states over a viral video of a man being beaten to death by alleged members of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and shortly spread to Lagos.
Tuesday saw the state government impose a 24-hour curfew and deploy anti-riot police to the city. Hundreds of activists demanded the government disband the police unit, accused of hundreds of extrajudicial killings since it was established in 1992.
The hashtag #EndSARS became very popular on social media and captured global attention from the Nigerian diaspora in Europe and the Americas, as well as celebrities and influencers in the US, including Black Lives Matter.
“They started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd,” said Alfred Ononugbo, 55, a security officer. “I saw the bullet hit one or two persons,” he said.
One witness at the protests, Akinbosola Ogunsanya, said the shooting began after the lights were turned off at the Nigerian city’s Lekki tollgate. “Members of the Nigerian army pulled upon us and they started firing,” he said. “They were shooting, they were firing straight, directly at us, and a lot of people got hit. I just survived, barely.”
The condition of those two people was not immediately known. Amnesty International has said at least 15 people had been killed since the protests started.
Lagos state government said it would open an investigation, which witnesses said took place around 7 p.m. (1800 GMT).
“There have been reports of shooting at the Lekki Toll Plaza,” Gboyega Akosile, a spokesman for the governor, said on Twitter. “The State Government has ordered an investigation into the incident,” he said in another tweet.