Sat, 28 Nov 2020

Soldiers opened fire on Nigerians protesting against police brutality in the Lekki district of the commercial capital Lagos on Tuesday, and at least two people were shot, four witnesses told Reuters.

Thousands of Nigerians have demonstrated nationwide every day for nearly two weeks against a police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), that rights groups had for years accused of extortion, harassment, torture and murders. The unit was disbanded on 11 October, but the protests have persisted with demonstrators calling for a raft of law enforcement reforms.

"They started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd," said Alfred Ononugbo, 55, a security officer after the soldiers opened fire. "I saw the bullet hit one or two persons," he said.

The condition of those two people was not immediately known. Amnesty International has said at least 15 people had been killed since the protests began.

In a Twitter post, the Nigerian Army said no soldiers were at the scene of the shooting on Tuesday night in Lekki, an upmarket district where the toll gate has been the site of daily protests in Lagos, Africa's biggest city.

Lagos State Goveror Babajide Sanwo-Olu tweeted pictures of him visiting people in hospital who were victims of what he referred to as the "unfortunate shooting incident at Lekki".

He said 25 people were being treated for mild to moderate injuries, two were receiving intensive care and three had been discharged.

"As the Governor of our state, I recognise the buck stops at my table and I will work with the FG (federal government) to get to the root of this unfortunate incident and stabilise all security operations to protect the lives of our residents," said Sanwo-Olu, adding that he would give a state broadcast on Wednesday morning.

The Lagos state government earlier said it would open an investigation into the shooting, which witnesses said began at about 19:00.

A Nigerian army spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Inyene Akpan, 26, a photographer, said more than 20 soldiers arrived at the toll gate in Lekki and opened fire. He said he saw two people being shot.

Akinbosola Ogunsanya, a third witness, said he saw around 10 people being shot. Ogunsanya, who said lights went out shortly before the soldiers arrived, also said he saw soldiers remove bodies.

Another witness, Chika Dibia, said soldiers hemmed in people as they shot at them.

Video verified by Reuters showed men walking slowly in formation toward demonstrators, followed by trucks with flashing lights, and the sound of gunfire popping. Another video showed the toll gate itself, with a protester waving a Nigerian flag, as people ran amid the sounds of gunfire.

A Reuters witness heard sirens and gunfire.

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Source: News24

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