Nigeria: UN slams ′brutality′ against #EndSARS protesters | News | DW | 21.10.2020

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Nigeria: UN slams 'brutality' against #EndSARS protesters

The UN and EU have joined the chorus of disapproval against the harsh crackdown on anti-police brutality protesters in Nigeria. Witnesses said gunmen opened fire on a crowd of over 1,000 citizens in Lagos.

The United Nations demanded an end to police "brutality" in Nigeria on Wednesday after Amnesty International reported that Nigerian security forces shot and killed peaceful protesters in the latest escalation of the two-weeks-long unrest.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged "the security forces to act at all times with maximum restraint" and also called on protesters "to demonstrate peacefully and to refrain from violence," spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Guterres said gunmen that opened fire on peaceful protesters Tuesday evening in Lagos caused "multiple deaths" and numerous injuries.

The UN chief urged the Nigerian authorities to investigate the violence and "hold the perpetrators accountable."

The governor of Lagos initially said that no fatalities had been recorded, but later said authorities were investigating the death of one person.

Shooting at a crowd

Witnesses said assailants opened fire on a crowd of over 1,000 citizens on Tuesday evening to disperse them after a curfew was imposed to end spiraling protests over police brutality and deep-rooted social grievances.

This was backed up by DW's Africa correspondent, Fanny Facsar, who got caught up in the violence.

She said "peaceful protesters" were calling for an end to the curfew and decried police brutality but the "dynamic started to change when people dressed in camouflage, gunmen, unclear whether military or what kind of Nigerian security forces, entered this site and started to shoot, shooting for quite some time. It was chaos, a huge mess."

EU call for justice

The European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Wednesday also condemned the killing of protesters and called for justice. 

"It is alarming to learn that several people have been killed and injured during the ongoing protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad [SARS] in Nigeria," he said. "It is crucial that those responsible of abuses be brought to justice and held accountable."

Meanwhile, Lagos stayed under a round-the-clock curfew enforced by police on Wednesday.

Read more: #EndSARS protests expose Nigeria's fault lines

The Lagos state governor said 30 people had been injured during a shooting at a toll gate in the Lekki district in the midst of the protests. One man had died in hospital from a blow to the head, according to the governor. It was unclear if he was a protester.

As President Muhammadu Buhari appealed for "understanding and calm", Amnesty International said it was investigating "credible but disturbing evidence of excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters" at the toll gate.

Watch video 01:36

Nigerian security forces fire at protesters in Lagos

Famous athletes express shock and shame

Figures from the world of sport voiced their support for the protesters. Heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua, whose mother is Nigerian, said "the violence and killings are horrendous. All because of people saying they want to live in peace? Change will happen! It's time,'' he wrote on Twitter.

Read more: Could Nigeria's #EndSARS protests grow into a movement?

Separately, Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo said he's "ashamed" of his country's government. 

Ighalo recorded a video message late Tuesday after United's 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. The 31-year-old former Nigeria international recorded his message on the pitch at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

"I'm sad and I'm broken. I'm not the kind of guy that talks about politics, but I can't keep quiet anymore for what is going on back home in Nigeria. I would say, Nigerian government — you guys are a shame to the world, for killing your own citizens, sending military to the streets to kill unharmful protesters, because they are protesting for their rights? It's uncalled for," he said.

jsi/dj (AFP, Reuters)

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