Security forces have opened fire and killed up to 12 protesters in Lagos as protests against police brutality in Nigeria continue, according to reports from the BBC and AFP.
“People were killed at the [Lekki] tollgate by security forces,” Amnesty’s Nigeria spokesman Isa Sanusi told AFP.
Witnesses told AFP that shots were fired at the crowd of over 1,000 peaceful demonstrators to disperse them several hours after the authorities declared an open-ended lockdown in Lagos in the face of spiralling protests. The BBC quoted reports from local media saying that up to 12 people had been killed.
The nationwide demonstrations began on 6 October after footage was posted on social media of officers from the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) dragging two men from a hotel and shooting one of them.
On 11 October the President’s office released a statement saying that SARS had been dissolved with immediate effect, but neither the protests against police brutality have continued.
The predominantly young protesters have been met with tear gas, stun grenades, water cannon as well as live ammunition. A protester was shot dead by police in Oyo state, and there were reports of live rounds being used in Lagos on 12 October. A policeman died after demonstrators attacked a police station in the Surulere area of Lagos on the same day.
Protests have also taken place in foreign cities including Accra and London, while global celebrities such as footballers Mesut Ozi and Marcus Rashford, actor John Boyega and Afrobeats stars Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy have lent their support.
Formed in 1992, SARS is an undercover police unit that was set up to combat violent crime but gained notoriety after accusations of illegal arrests, sexual harassment and extrajudicial killing, as well as for its arbitrary policy of stop and search and generally brutal behaviour.
An online campaign using the hashtag #ENDSARS was founded in 2017 and peaceful protests had been held across the country prior to the current round.
African lives matter
Following the special focus on African Lives Matter in our August/September issue, New African magazine continues to report on the mistreatment of citizens by authorities in African countries and to campaign against the gross injustices being done to Black people not only across the world but also in their home continent. To follow our reports visit the African Lives Matter page.