Security Forces Open Fire On Civilians As #EndSARS Protests Continue In Nigeria
Reports of a massacre in the Lekki suburb of Lagos are the latest example of civilian protestors being targeted with violence.
October 20, 2020 at 10:00 pm
Several news outlets are reporting that Nigerian soldiers opened fire on unarmed protestors at the Lekki Toll Gate near Lagos city, leaving an undetermined number of demonstrators dead or injured. This incident is the latest example of violence being committed against civilians who are engaged in the #EndSARS Campaign that have rocked Nigeria for the past two weeks.
As Blavity previously reported, the #EndSARS movement emerged in Nigeria earlier this month to protest widespread abuses by the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police unit. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari banned SARS on October 11, but the protests continued and have now transformed into a larger movement demanding political and economic reforms within the country and an end to corruption.
State and national government officials have been increasingly cracking down on the protests since SARS was eliminated. The governor of Nigeria’s Rivers State banned further protests following the disbanding of SARS. Other areas of the country, including the federal capital, Abuja, likewise banned protests, but these bans have largely been ignored by Nigerians fed up with corruption and abuse within the country.
Last week, Amnesty International reported that 10 people died and hundreds more were injured during the protests. The human rights organization accused government forces of “excessive force, including firing live ammunition, water cannon, throwing tear gas into crowds, beating and arresting protesters” as well as targeting journalists. Armed vigilante gangs have also targeted protestors with violence. Recent news reports have increased the death toll to at least 15, a figure which does not include the victims of the recent Lekki shooting.
In response to events in Lagos, the Governor of Lagos State (which includes the city) Babajide Sanwo-Olu, declared an indefinite 24-hour curfew throughout the state. The curfew, originally set to begin 4 p.m. on Tuesday, was pushed back to 9pm to allow residents stuck in traffic to make it home.