Abuja, Nigeria – Agboola Fabiyi was near the entrance line when he noticed armed troopers method a peaceable protest camp in Lekki, an upmarket space in Nigeria’s industrial capital, Lagos.
The 28-year-old protester stated a number of the troopers reached the group and requested them to depart in compliance with a curfew imposed by the authorities earlier on Tuesday. When the protesters demanding an finish to police brutality refused, Fabiyi stated the troopers started firing into the air, earlier than turning their weapons in direction of them.
“We by no means imagined they might begin taking pictures at us as a result of we had been peaceable and never carrying weapons,” he stated on Wednesday, nonetheless shaken. “The worst we anticipated was for the troopers to throw tear fuel to disperse us.”
Fabiyi stated he shortly laid face all the way down to the bottom as protesters on the Lekki toll plaza started scampering to security. Shortly after, he additionally crawled away.
A number of witnesses have given related accounts on social media and information experiences, describing an unprovoked assault that brought about outrage throughout Nigeria and overseas. Graphic footage posted on-line confirmed demonstrators fleeing as gunfire and sirens rang out, with some attempting to take away shrapnel from wounded protesters.
Simply hours earlier than, movies extensively shared on-line confirmed protesters waving Nigerian flags, singing the nationwide anthem and solidarity songs and chanting the names of victims of police brutality.
— Sophie Bouillon (@sophie_bouillon) October 20, 2020
In a press release on Wednesday, Amnesty Worldwide stated it had confirmed that the Nigerian military and police killed at the very least 12 peaceable protesters in Lekki and Alausa, one other protest floor in Lagos, after firing on hundreds of peaceable demonstrators.
Following a hospital go to to victims of what he described because the “unlucky taking pictures incident” in Lekki, Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu stated one particular person had died from a blow to the pinnacle – however it was not clear if the particular person was a demonstrator.
“It’s crucial to clarify that no governor controls the principles of engagement of the military,” stated Sanwo-Olu, who cited what he described because the degeneration of protests “right into a monster” when he introduced the curfew. “I’ve however instructed an investigation into the ordered and the adopted guidelines of engagement employed by the lads of the Nigerian military deployed to the Lekki Toll Gate,” he added.
The Nigerian military, nonetheless, denied the involvement of their males within the taking pictures. In a Twitter submit, it stated no troopers had been on the scene in Lekki and went on to label a number of experiences as pretend information.
“They got here in navy vans. They had been armed and wore navy uniform,” retorted Fabiyi. “Are they denying what’s so seen to everybody? There are movies of them taking pictures at us”.
A clearer video of the Nigerian Military taking pictures at unarmed peaceable protesters in Lekki toll gate.
— Elvis Tunde ➐ (@Tunnykvng) October 20, 2020
Fabiyi, a graphic designer primarily based in Lagos’s Osapa space, has been an energetic participant on the street demonstrations that started some two weeks in the past with calls to disband the Particular Anti-Theft Squad (SARS), a controversial police unit which has lengthy been accused of illegal arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings.
Authorities on October 11 introduced the dissolution of SARS however protesters remained unconvinced by the announcement, saying they might stay on the streets till their calls for had been met, together with the discharge of imprisoned protesters and implementation of structural regulation enforcement reforms.
Tensions operating excessive
Lagos remained on edge on Wednesday as protesters defied the round the clock curfew and gunfire was heard. Some public buildings and a personal tv station had been additionally attacked by felony components, in accordance with experiences.
Demonstrators in Lagos have lengthy expressed fears that provocateurs is perhaps used to disrupt the peaceable character of their motion and create the circumstances that will justify a safety crackdown in opposition to them.
Early on Tuesday, police authorities introduced that anti-riot forces can be instantly deployed throughout the nation to keep up regulation and order, whereas troopers have additionally been patrolling in main cities the place violence has been reported.
Edo State within the nation’s south was the primary to introduce a 24-hour curfew on Monday after gangs attacked two predominant prisons, serving to almost 2,000 inmates to flee. A police manhunt has since been underneath approach.
On Wednesday, protesters in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, saved off the streets. However tensions are nonetheless operating excessive within the metropolis after thugs attacked demonstrators on Monday and Tuesday.
“We’re restrategising on method the following section of our protests to keep away from being infiltrated by hoodlums,” stated Francis Okobi.
“The protests will certainly proceed in just a few days from now. We’ve come underneath severe assault from hoodlums employed by politicians to disrupt our programme,” added the 32-year-old, a building employee.
At a nook close to the doorway of his one-bedroom condo in Abuja’s Mpape space, there was nonetheless a placard studying: “We don’t want reform. #EndSars #EndPoliceBrutalitynow.”
“We’re very decided to attain outcomes. We gained’t surrender,” he stated.
Fabiyi shared the identical conviction.
“We’ve remained peaceable throughout our protests. All we’re asking for is that authorities ought to meet our calls for to finish police brutality,” Fabiyi stated.
“What’s taking place now’s so unlucky. We aren’t hoodlums. We don’t bear arms. We’ve solely been marching by way of the streets and carrying placards,” he added.
“However we’re not giving up. If we fail now our youngsters gained’t be pleased with us. We’ve to proceed to demand for a greater Nigeria.”