End SARS protests turn bloody as Army Massacre protesters at Lekki in Lagos

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End SARS Protesters 1

A number of people taking part in a protest against police brutality have reportedly been shot dead or wounded in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos.
Witnesses said up to 20 people were killed and more than 50 others wounded when soldiers opened fire. Amnesty International said it had “credible reports” of deaths.


The state governor, however, said there had been no fatalities, although about 25 people had been wounded.

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An indefinite 24-hour curfew has been imposed on Lagos and other regions.


On Wednesday, police in different districts of Lagos fired shots in the air to disperse protesters defying the curfew, the BBC’s Nduka Orjinmo reports from the capital, Abuja.


Protesters who briefly gathered again at the Lekki toll gate – where Tuesday’s shootings took place – were forced out by police, he adds.

Protests over a now-disbanded police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars), have been taking place for two weeks. The protesters are using the social media hashtag #EndSars to rally crowds.


Reacting to Tuesday’s shootings in the wealthy Lekki suburb, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and the army “to stop killing young #EndSARS protesters”.


Former US Vice-President Joe Biden – who is standing against President Donald Trump in next month’s election – urged Nigerian authorities to cease the “violent crackdown on protesters”.
“The US must stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption in their democracy,” he said in a statement.


Nigerian footballer Odion Jude Ighalo, who plays for Manchester United, accused the Nigerian government of killing its own citizens. “I’m ashamed of this government,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

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Eyewitnesses spoke of uniformed men opening fire at the Lekki toll gate on Tuesday evening.


Armed soldiers were seen barricading the protest site moments before the shooting, BBC Nigeria correspondent Mayeni Jones reports.
Social media footage streamed live from the scene shows protesters tending to the wounded.

An unnamed witness told BBC News that shortly before 19:00 local time soldiers “pulled up… and they started firing directly” at peaceful protesters.
“They were firing and they were advancing straight at us. It was chaos. Somebody got hit straight beside me and he died on the spot,” he said.

End SARS protester shot dead. 2

Four witnesses told Reuters news agency soldiers had opened fire on demonstrators. One of them, Alfred Ononugbo, 55, said: “They were firing into the crowd. I saw the bullet hit one or two persons.”
The Premium Times newspaper quoted witnesses as saying about 12 people had been killed.

End SARS protester shot dead


In a tweet, Amnesty International Nigeria said it had “received credible but disturbing evidence of excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos”.
Amnesty International spokesman Isa Sanusi later said: “People were killed at the tollgate by security forces… we are working on verifying how many.”

How have the authorities reacted?

In a statement on Wednesday, President Buhari did not directly refer to the shootings, but called on people to have patience as police reforms “gather pace”.

The army has not issued a statement on events in Lekki, but in several posts on Twitter it described media reports as “fake news”.


Lagos state Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who visited hospitals on Wednesday, said about 25 people had been wounded in what he described as an “unfortunate shooting incident”.
“We are comforted that we have not recorded any fatality, as against the widespread circulation on social media,” he said, adding that an investigation had been ordered.

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Nigeria reacts to harrowing scenes

Analysis by Mayeni Jones, BBC Nigeria Correspondent


It was a bleak night in Nigeria as social media footage from the shooting poured in, showing gunshots ringing out at the protest site long into the night.


This is not the first time the Nigerian army has been accused of shooting unarmed protesters. There have been reports of violent crackdowns on EndSars protesters in other parts of the country.
But seeing live rounds used at one of the protest sites that had been peaceful until last night has rattled many. Just last week I stood at the very site of the shooting.


The protesters were peaceful, organised, hopeful for the future of their country. But this is no more.
Harrowing social media videos showing protesters singing the national anthem as shots ring out in the background have caused outrage.
Multiple online accounts say the CCTV and lights were taken out at the toll gate where the protest took place before troops started advancing, leading to total chaos.


These details are galvanising a generation already disillusioned with the ruling class. The Nigerian government is running out of time to quell the growing dissatisfaction.

How did the unrest begin?

Protests began nearly two weeks ago with calls for the Sars police unit, which had been accused of illegal detentions, assaults and shootings, to be disbanded.
President Buhari dissolved the unit on 11 October.

But the demonstrators called for more changes in the security forces as well as reforms to the way the country is run.
Mr Sanwo-Olu has said that criminals have hijacked the protests.

Source: BBC

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