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Unrest Spreads In Nigeria After 38 People Are Killed By Police Repression

The international community condemns the brutality of the security forces, who shot a thousand protesters in Lagos

Some 38 people died in Nigeria on Tuesday and hundreds were injured according to a count by Amnesty International AI as a result of the riots and the violent repression of the wave of protests against police brutality that this country has experienced since last March 8 October

The most serious incidents took place in Lagos the most populated city where soldiers fired on a thousand protesters who had occupied a toll station in Lekki as indicated by the human rights association

In this city a dozen people died although the governor of Lagos state Babajide SanwoOlu only admits one death in hospital due to head trauma

Violence also spread through the states of Oyo Ogun Kano Edo Abia and the capital Abuja with police stations attacked and burned clashes between rioters and protesters and more deaths

Despite the fact that the curfew declared this Tuesday is still in force in Lagos this Wednesday the riots continued with the burning of a television headquarters a bus station and other public and private buildings Shots have been heard throughout the city and clashes have continued although the Army on Tuesday denied having fired at the population and the federal government has not provided any death toll

Opening fire on peaceful protesters is a flagrant violation of peoples rights to life dignity freedom of expression and peaceful assembly

The soldiers clearly had an intention to kill without consequences said Osai Ojigho AIs national director in Nigeria who has called for an immediate investigation and that those responsible be brought to justice

This organization which claims that it has prepared its account based on eyewitnesses video captures and reports from hospitals assures that the military removed the bodies in the Lekki area

This Wednesday Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari made a lukewarm call for calm and reiterated his total commitment to the implementation of lasting reforms within the Police one of the main demands of the protesters However convictions of police action have not been long in coming from abroad

The Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres condemned what he called brutality and called for restraint while the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell showed his rejection of impunity It is alarming to know that several people have they were killed or injured during the protests It is crucial that those responsible for the abuses are brought to justice he said

Reactions of outrage also flooded social networks Through Twitter former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the president and the Army to stop murdering young protesters

Democratic candidate Joe Biden also called for an end to a crackdown that has already caused many deaths through a statement Wellknown artists and highly influential cultural figures such as the singers Davido and Wizki are now demanding Buharis immediate resignation

Horrible images come to us from the Lekki toll station The right to life is sacrosanct Seun Bakare the head of Amnesty International AI programs in Nigeria said on Twitter

This organization assured hours after the events that it had credible and alarming evidence that the excessive use of force caused the deaths of protesters The governor of Lagos Babajide SanwoOlu estimated at 28 the wounded admitted to three hospitals two of them in serious condition and admitted that one had died

This is the most difficult night of our lives as forces beyond our direct control have acted to write dark pages in our history but we will face them and we will come out stronger he said through his Twitter account

Faced with the violent drift of the demonstrations against police brutality that have been shaking Nigeria since last October 8 the federal government decided this week to mobilize the Army and riot control forces throughout the country

In Lagos groups of young people had erected barricades on Tuesday and blocked all access to the city prompting Governor SanwoOlu to decree a curfew that came into effect at four in the afternoon Despite this a thousand protesters decided to remain at the Lekki toll station one of the main entry points to the city

Law enforcement and military forces occupied positions during the afternoon at this strategic point and as night fell they turned off the stations security cameras and cut off the electricity

Moments later they opened fire on the protesters Serious incidents were also experienced in Alausa and Mushin on the outskirts of Lagos where the police fired at young people who had cut off traffic and prevented the officers from entering

The local newspaper The Punch reports the death of 17 people at this location At least six policemen died in the riots throughout the country according to this media outlet two police stations were burned and numerous vehicles vandalized

In Ibadan the capital of Oyo state a group of young people looted a police station stole weapons and then set the building on fire

Five people were killed including two policemen according to national media which also reports that in Kano in the north of the country rioters broke into a peaceful demonstration and murdered four young people causing a confrontation between them

Presumably in Benin the capital of Edo state protesters defied the curfew and police opened fire on them resulting in at least two deaths In the city of Abia two police stations were attacked and in Abuja criminals armed with sticks and stones pounced on the protesters causing dozens of injuries

The trigger for the recent wave of demonstrations against police brutality was the murder of a young man on 3 October in the city of Ughelli by the police

The main object of the youths anger was the Special AntiTheft Squad SARS a unit created in 1984 that had accumulated hundreds of complaints of excessive use of force intimidation torture in dismal detention centers and extrajudicial executions as documented in four reports since the 1990s by the human rights organization Amnesty International

After the massive protest on October 9 President Buhari decided to dissolve SARS but the demonstrations continued and escalated

The protesters who received enormous international support from personalities from the world of culture and sports as well as movements such as Black Lives Matter demanded justice for the victims of SARS as well as a thorough investigation of all complaints

The protests also began to point out to President Buhari corruption and bad government in a context of economic crisis for the measures taken to combat the covid19 pandemic

The demonstrations were peaceful until groups of rioters and hired thugs entered the scene according to AI armed with stones and sticks that attacked the protesters themselves The repression of the protests would have claimed about 15 fatalities until this Tuesday

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