LAGOS – Nigeria lived through a day of maximum tension on Wednesday due to the bloody repression of the massive protests against police brutality that are shaking the country, which is feared to have caused dozens of deaths on Tuesday night and was widely condemned by international leaders.
The epicenter of the demonstrations was in the state of Lagos, where the city of the same name is located, the largest city in Africa, and the economic heart of Nigeria, where the authorities imposed a curfew on Tuesday to contain the demonstrations.
That decision was made after several days of protests by #EndSARS (“End SARS”), a movement that has managed to attract international attention to the accusations of arbitrary arrests, torture, and murders of the now-dissolved Special Anti-Theft Unit (SARS, for its acronym) of the Nigerian Police. Last night, described by the local press as “Black Tuesday”, several people were killed by actions of the security forces in the area of the Lekki toll barrier in Lagos, a city of about 21 million inhabitants, according to the Nigerian section of Amnesty International (AI).
“Amnesty International has received credible but disturbing evidence of excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos. #EndSARS #Lekki #Nigeria,” Amnesty International Nigeria on its Twitter social network account.
Witnesses quoted by the newspaper “Premium Times” assured that at least seven people died in that area after the Army opened fire on the protesters, who had violated the curfew.
The newspaper “The Punch”, also citing witnesses, indicated that 29 people (27 civilians and two policemen) lost their lives in Lagos, but the authorities have not confirmed, for the moment, that point.
The governor of the state of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, admitted today that at least 21 injuries were registered, of which one died in a hospital, although he indicated that he has no record of any more deaths.
“For greater clarity,” he said, “it is imperative to explain that no active governor controls the military’s rules of engagement. However, I have ordered an investigation into the rules of engagement adopted by men from the Nigerian Army who were deployed at the tollbooth of Lekki last night. “
The governor, who attributed the violence to “forces beyond our direct control”, extended the curfew decreed yesterday to 24 hours throughout the state for another 72 hours, where today there were violent acts such as the burning of the television headquarters TVC and the Nigerian Port Authority, and police shots were heard in the air to disperse protesters.
Likewise, the leader ordered the suspension of all activities in Lagos for three days, a period in which the national flag will fly at half-mast in public buildings.
The protests on Tuesday also took place in Abuja (Nigeria’s federal capital) and states such as Kano (north), Oyo (southwest), Ogun (southwest), or Plateau (center).