Fri, 27 Nov 2020

Agboola Fabiyi was close to the front line when he saw armed soldiers approach a peaceful protest camp in Lekki, an upmarket area in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos.

The 28-year-old protester said some of the soldiers reached the crowd and asked them to leave in compliance with a curfew imposed by the authorities earlier on Tuesday. When the protesters demanding an end to police brutality refused, Fabiyi said the soldiers began firing into the air, before turning their guns towards them.

"We never imagined they would start shooting at us because we were peaceful and not carrying weapons," he said on Wednesday, still shaken. "The worst we expected was for the soldiers to throw tear gas to disperse us."

Fabiyi said he quickly laid face down to the ground as protesters at the Lekki toll plaza began scampering to safety. Shortly after, he also crawled away.

Several witnesses have given similar accounts on social media and news reports, describing an unprovoked attack that caused outrage across Nigeria and abroad. Graphic footage posted online showed demonstrators fleeing as gunfire and sirens rang out, with some trying to remove shrapnel from wounded protesters.

Just hours before, videos widely shared online showed protesters waving Nigerian flags, singing solidarity songs and chanting the names of victims of police brutality.

#EndSARS protesters killed in Nigeria

On Wednesday, protesters in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, kept off the streets. But tensions are still running high in the city after thugs attacked demonstrators on Monday and Tuesday.

"We are restrategising on how to approach the next phase of our protests to avoid being infiltrated by hoodlums," said Francis Okobi.

"The protests will surely continue in a few days from now. We have come under serious attack from hoodlums hired by politicians to disrupt our programme," added the 32-year-old, a construction worker.

At a corner near the entrance of his one-bedroom apartment in Abuja's Mpape area, there was still a placard reading: "We don't need reform. #EndSars #EndPoliceBrutalitynow."

"We are very determined to achieve results. We won't give up," he said.

Fabiyi shared the same conviction.

"We have remained peaceful during our protests. All we are asking for is that government should meet our demands to end police brutality," Fabiyi said.

"What's happening now is so unfortunate. We are not hoodlums. We don't bear arms. We have only been marching through the streets and carrying placards," he added.

"But we are not giving up. If we fail now our children won't be happy with us. We have to continue to demand for a better Nigeria."

Source: News24

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