Amnesty International has reported that 12 people have been killed during peaceful protests against police brutality in Lagos, Nigeria.
69 people have been killed by Nigeria’s security forces whilst protesting police brutality since October,
The protests broke out on Wednesday despite a state-imposed curfew. Whilst demonstrators were setting up a blockade and singing the national anthem, Nigeria’s police opened fire into the crowd and used tear gas. Lagos, the Lekki toll plaza, and several other Nigerian cities reported gunfire at their demonstrations.
Two private TV stations were forced off the air because their offices were burned.
Calls for Accountability
Amnesty International has called for an investigation into Nigeria’s military’s conduct during these protests.
Osai Ojigho, Country Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, stated on the matter:
“Opening fire on peaceful protesters is a blatant violation of people’s rights to life, dignity, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Soldiers clearly had one intention - to kill without consequences”.
He further added:
“These shootings clearly amount to extrajudicial executions. There must be an immediate investigation and suspected perpetrators must be held accountable through fair trials. Authorities must ensure access to justice and effective remedies for the victims and their families”.
Nigeria’s military has denied responsibility for the shootings. There have also been reports of armed gangs instructed by the state to crackdown on protesters.
In response to the #ENDSARS movement, the government announced it would disband the SARS police unit, which amnesty international says has been responsible for many cases of torture and death. However the government has maintained that it would redeploy those employed in SARS into different roles.
This movement has only caused demonstrators to demand more widespread reforms to end human rights abuses by the government.
In Nigeria, many people face high levels of poverty and lack access to basic services. Twitter has been flooded by accounts of the abuses they face from corrupted police.
President Muhammadu Buhari did little to address the protests in Nigeria or the Lekki shootings but on Wednesday issued a call for police reforms.
Buhari said the dissolution of the SARS unit, “is the first step in a set of reform policies that will deliver a police system accountable to the Nigerian people,” and said the government is committed to, “the implementation of lasting police reforms in Nigeria.”